Intel Authorization Bill Would Turn Online Service Providers into Law Enforcement Watchdogs

Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee passed a version of the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2016 (S. 1705) that would create a new “duty to report” apparent “terrorist activity” for providers of electronic communication services, which include online content hosts, internet service providers, and public libraries and coffee shops that offer WiFi access. The ramifications of this provision, which was introduced through a secret, closed-door committee process, are immense.

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UN Report: Encryption and Anonymity Tools Essential to Free Expression Online

“Encryption and anonymity provide individuals and groups with a zone of privacy online to hold opinions and exercise freedom of expression without arbitrary and unlawful interference or attacks.” This is the message that the UN Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, delivered to the UN Human Rights Council today.

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Freedom Online Coalition Considers Best Practices for Promoting Freedom Online

This week, member governments of the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) meet in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, for their 5th annual Conference. The overarching theme for the 2015 meeting is “Internet Policy Making – Best Practices for Promoting Online Freedoms” and is billed as an opportunity for governments, private sector, and civil society to discuss the threats to freedom online and the opportunities to protect and promote “fundamental freedoms and human rights.”

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Listening to the Experts on Human Trafficking

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee is considering two pieces of legislation that would help combat sex trafficking in the United States. As these bills enter committee markup on Thursday, it’s important that they remain focused on essential victim-centered reforms and providing law enforcement with necessary prosecution and prevention resources – not on measures that infringe on the First Amendment.

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FEC Should Preserve ‘Breathing Space’ for Online Political Debate

CDT joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation last week in comments urging the Federal Election Commission to leave in place a key policy decision protecting individuals’ ability to engage in political speech online. When the FEC launched its first inquiry into the topic, CDT advocated for “breathing space” for online political speech, warning that the complex welter of campaign finance regulations would discourage individuals from engaging in robust online debate about political candidates and policy proposals. The FEC’s hands-off approach should ensure that it continues to promote – not discourage – political participation online.

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Getting Specific About Transparency, Privacy, and Free Expression Online

Amid the contentious global debates about privacy and surveillance since the Snowden revelations, few proposed reforms have attracted more consensus than calls for greater transparency. Although the devil remains in the details, the need to increase transparency around the requests that governments make of companies to hand over personal data or restrict content online is one of the rare points on which governments, companies, and civil society at least somewhat agree.

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