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DHS Refuses to Back Away from Invasive Spying at the Border

Back in March, CDT, along with more than 50 other civil society groups and trade associations, wrote a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly urging that he back away from DHS proposals to use border searches as a tool to collect passwords and other social media information. Today we received a response. Unfortunately, the reply largely ducks our concerns, ignoring the main issues at play and doing little to shed light on the government’s plans or put to rest controversy about its contentious proposal. This non-answer is deeply troubling because it seems to indicate that Customs and Border Protection (CBP, which is a sub agency of DHS) is doing nothing to change course from a recent, dangerous trend: the use of the U.S. border as a tool to conduct broad surveillance.

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Finding a Path Forward When Law Enforcement Needs Digital Evidence Held in Other Nations

Last week in United States vs. Microsoft, the Department of Justice (DOJ) petitioned the Supreme Court to decide the reach of the U.S. government when compelling U.S. companies to turn over data stored outside the U.S. Courts are divided on the issue. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) cannot reach extraterritorially. Magistrates in other circuits have disagreed, interpreting the search as occurring where a company discloses data, not where the data is seized. However, what no one disputes is that as the number of requests skyrockets, the system for accessing data across borders is deeply in need of reform, and that courts are ill-suited to tackle the complicated equities at stake. CDT argues that progress can be made through reforms in following four areas: bilateral agreements, the MLAT system, domestic U.S. law, and the adoption of certain legal changes.

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Time to Permanently End NSA’s “About” Searches In Communications Content under FISA 702

Recently, the government released a significant FISA Court opinion discussing one of the NSA’s most controversial surveillance programs under FISA Section 702: the practice of searching the content of communications for references “about” a target instead of collecting communications that are just to or from a target. The court found egregious violations of the privacy rules designed…

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House Judiciary Committee Demonstrates Strong Interest in Privacy

Last week, CDT’s Vice President for Policy, Chris Calabrese, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the Department of Justice’s proposal to amend U.S. privacy laws to permit foreign governments to request data directly from U.S. companies without going through American courts. The current proposal does not sufficiently cover four key points. Importantly, multiple representatives shared our concerns over the current government proposal.

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An Obscure Case with Big Implications for Privacy

The government has just fired its latest salvo in a long running effort to circumvent privacy protections for electronic communications. An obscure case of civil fraud may have dramatic implications for when and how the government can access your emails, texts, and photos held online. CDT jointly filed a brief in the case, Securities and Exchange Commission v. North Star Finance LLC, opposing government efforts to obtain email content in a civil case with just a subpoena to an email service provider.

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Tech Talk: Media Outlets in the Trust Economy; the Latest on Section 702

CDT’s Tech Talk is a podcast where we dish on tech and Internet policy, while also explaining what these policies mean to our daily lives. In this episode, we talk with the Associate Publisher of the Christian Science Monitor about how media outlets must find new ways to succeed in the trust economy. We also bring you the latest on reform efforts around Section 702 of FISA.

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“Hacking Back” a Recipe for Digital Arms Race

“Malicious hacking”—using technological means to penetrate or manipulate the networks, data, or devices of others without permission is a threat to the Internet and to the health of the Internet infrastructure companies that serve as its backbone. “Hacking back” would make us all more vulnerable to more sophisticated and frequent attacks. Our focus should be on protecting networks from intrusion, rather than making them more vulnerable by turning the Internet ecosystem into a digital war zone.

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5 Takeaways from the New DHS Privacy Guidance

To comply with the executive order, DHS released new policy guidance on April 27. The new policy acknowledges that DHS can no longer extend statutory Privacy Act protections to non-U.S. persons, but it also explains what the agency must do to continue to protect the privacy of non-U.S. persons. It’s still early to tell how the policy will work in practice, but here are a few takeaways.

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