Supreme Court Cases That Should Be Getting More Attention

In the midst of an exciting Supreme Court session, there are two significant cases awaiting a cert decision that have thus far generated surprisingly little media buzz considering the important questions they raise: Antonio Rios v. United States and Mohamed Osman Mohamud v. United States. Both present the Supreme Court an opportunity to resolve fraught privacy and civil liberties issues.

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EC Will Not Push For Encryption “Backdoors”, But Member States Might

The European Commission (EC) announced this week a package of counter-terrorism measures as part of its European Agenda on Security initiative. These include, among other things, “measures to support law enforcement and judicial authorities when they encounter the use of encryption in criminal investigations”. It is heartening that the EC restates its recognition of encryption as a crucial element in ensuring both cybersecurity and the right level of security for processing personal data. We welcome the explicit realisation that backdoors, or any form of weakening online security, would have disastrous consequences for online communications and commerce.

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Urgent Fix Needed: USA Liberty Act Needs To Better Focus Surveillance Under FISA 702

Last week, a bipartisan group of House Judiciary Committee members introduced the first bill to reform Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, H.R. 3989, also known as the USA Liberty Act. It contains many important provisions, including an end to the collection of communications to which the surveillance target is not even party. However, it fails to limit the scope of 702 surveillance and therefore permits the surveillance of people far removed from anti-terrorism goals its proponents cite. In fact, it authorizes surveillance of people engaged in harmless activity.

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DHS’s Misguided Social Media Retention Policy Jeopardizes Fundamental Freedoms

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an alarming notice that DHS would now retain social media information in Alien-Files (A-Files). A-Files are government records, generated in the immigration context, that include the records of an individual as they pass through the United States immigration process, and are retained by DHS for 100 years after the individual’s birthdate. This retention of social media information should not be brushed off as ‘business as usual’ for DHS. This policy, and its negative consequences for the free expression and privacy rights of both immigrants and U.S. citizens.

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Ethics, Consequence, and Free Speech Online

As the pace of technology increases, the definition of “the internet” is ever changing (e.g., the IoT space, virtual reality, etc.), so trying to nail down what should and shouldn’t be protected speech quickly becomes a bit of a harrowing task for any individual citizen. That doesn’t mean we should stop trying. Playwright Jennifer Haley’s remarks at our Future of Speech Online event highlighted the fact that these aren’t just decisions to be made in a vacuum.

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Can Data Collaboratives Improve Nonprofit Data Governance?

While nonprofits are as susceptible to the data risks, threats, and pitfalls that for-profit companies routinely trip over, it can be easy to view dollars spent on privacy and security as money diverted from other important areas. Building on a report by GovLab, here are several of CDT’s recommendations for how “data collaboratives” can help nonprofits to improve their privacy and security practices.

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FISA 702 Reform: The USA Liberty Act Puts an End to “About” Collection

Last week, a bipartisan group of Representatives introduced H.R. 3989, the USA Liberty Act, which would reauthorize Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act for an additional six years. The bill also represents the first effort at substantively reforming Section 702 in advance of the spying authority’s sunset on December 31. One of the bill’s most important provisions is its ban on collecting communications that are neither to nor from a target overseas, a practice colloquially known as “about” collection.

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