Posts Tagged ‘PCLOB’

This is “The Day We Fight Back”

Monday, February 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm by
Protest against government surveillance in Washington DC. Photograph: Xinhua/Landov/Barcroft Media

Protest against government surveillance in Washington DC. Photograph: Xinhua/Landov/Barcroft Media

Unwarranted mass surveillance has proven to be a universal issue, providing common ground for private corporations, libertarian groups, and civil liberty advocates to unite. On Tuesday February 11, a broad coalition will take a stand against the National Security Agency (NSA) and engage in a global day of action, “The Day We Fight Back.

The Day We Fight Back is tied to the activist and technologist Aaron Swartz and his contributions to the digital rights movement. Swartz was a key individual in the movement to defeat the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill that sought to limit access to sites with user-generated content. Because of the efforts of Swartz and other activists, the Internet remains intact as a universal platform for all users.


PCLOB says government should end bulk data collection

Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 5:19 pm by

23NSA-superJumboThe Washington Post reported today that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) found that “the statute upon which the [bulk data collection] program was based, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, “does not provide an adequate basis to support this program.”


President Obama defends the intelligence establishment

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 11:40 am by

PCLOBLast Friday, January 17, President Obama delivered an extensive speech acknowledging the disturbing history of government surveillance, while proposing meager reforms that would fail to address most of the wide-ranging concerns prompted by the Snowden disclosures.

The Boston Globe published an editorial, “Obama chooses to tweak NSA, rather than embrace reform,” citing BORDC’s Shahid Buttar. According to The Globe:

The most meaningful reform [that President Obama] announced was a new requirement that permission be obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court each time US officials want to search the database of phone and Internet records that the government holds….

Lastly, Obama asked Congress to change the rules of the intelligence court to carve out a role for privacy advocates. Currently, judges only hear from one side. These are important changes. But the fundamental question of whether the government should collect and retain massive amounts of data on private citizens remains unresolved. While Obama’s NSA review board urged the government to stop the mass collection of data — and have phone companies hold the data instead — Obama seemed determined to ensure that the government maintain access to it.


News Digest 01/13/2014

Monday, January 13, 2014 at 5:13 pm by

Current News 

1/13, Peter Van Buren, The Nation, Ten Myths About the NSA, Debunked

1/12, Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, NSA phone record collection does little to prevent terrorist attacks, group says

1/12, Brent Staples, New York Times, A Flashback to the Reign of J. Edgar Hoover

1/11, Martin Pengelly, The Guardian, Close Guantánamo prison, says first US commander on 12th anniversary

1/10, J. Duaine Hahn, Complex Tech, Snapchat Admits to Having Given Photos to Law Enforcement

1/9, Charlie Savage and Peter Baker, New York Times, Obama Seeks Balance in Plan for Spy Programs

BORDC welcomes Privacy & Civil Liberties Oversight Board

Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 10:01 am by

After a four year absence, a board charged with ensuring government respect for privacy and civil liberties was recently reconvened and received recommendations from civil liberties groups.  How it approaches its work will carry serious implications for civil liberties going forward.

In 2004, the September 11th Commission’s recommendations to Congress included the creation of a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) to ensure the protection of civil liberties.  Noting that “if our liberties are curtailed, we lose the values that we are struggling to defend,” the commission called for a board to oversee the government’s adherence to defending civil liberties.  The PCLOB was constituted in 2006, but after operating for less than a year, it was reorganized by Congress, curtailing the tenure of its original members and then allowing to lapse after 2008.

After years of inactivity, the Senate finally confirmed new members of the Board, and it convened for a public hearing on October 31.  A bevy of civil liberties groups submitted statements to the Board, including the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC), as well as the ACLU, the Defending Dissent Foundation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the DC-based Center for National Security Studies (CNSS), and the Constitution Project.

Both BORDC and CNSS  recommended approaches to the PCLOB’s work going forward, rather than discrete issues.  BORDC’s statement included three major recommendations to guide the work of the board:

  • [Undertake] a concerted effort to recruit and engage pro bono counsel to extent the PCLOB’s investigative capacity.
  • Beyond examining any discrete set of policies…acquaint policymakers, the press, and its observers within the executive branch with context about the landscape connecting these various long overlooked civil liberties issues.
  • Because the PCLOB has convened only in passing over the decade since its creation was first recommended by the 9/11 commission, it should evaluate contemporary policies not in the context of the most recent incremental changes, but rather against the baseline pre-dating the 9/11 commission.

Similarly, CNSS provided input on the Board’s role, objectives, operations and its place vis-a vis the public and Congress. Notably, CNSS urged the Board to take a broad view of what constitutes privacy, inviting it to:

consider those ways in which government access to personal information, even when that information may be somehow available on the internet, impacts those constitutional values of liberty, due process and individual autonomy that privacy is supposed to protect.

A number of allied organizations presented suggestions about particular issues screaming out for scrutiny and oversight by the PCLOB.