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CBP Letter Prompts the Question: Is DHS Criminalizing Compassion and Association?

Authorities at the U.S. border are arguing that journalists who report on asylum seekers, and the lawyers and activists who advise them, are legitimate targets for investigation under 8 U.S. Code §1324 for the crime of illegally “encouraging” aliens to cross the border unlawfully. This alleged crime justifies the targeting of these individuals for surveillance, and may be tied to the search and detention of their electronic devices at ports of entry. That’s the message U.S. Customs and Border Protection delivered in a May 9th letter to the Center for Democracy & Technology, which responded to the coalition letter we sent the Department of Homeland Security about a pattern of enforcement activity that appears to target journalists, lawyers and activists associated with asylum seekers.

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DHS Should Stop Surveilling Activists, Journalists, and Lawyers

The Department of Homeland Security appears to be targeting activists, journalists, and lawyers for enhanced screening at ports of entry based on their speech and association with asylum-seekers. Going even further, DHS is documenting and disseminating records of political activity. CDT organized a diverse coalition spanning the political spectrum and consisting of over 100 organizations to demand that DHS immediately cease any politically motivated surveillance of activists, journalists, lawyers, and protest activity.

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CDT Urges European Court of Human Rights To Outlaw or Limit Bulk Collection

CDT filed a brief in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the joined petitions of Big Brother Watch and Others v. United Kingdom. Big Brother Watch challenges the United Kingdom’s bulk interception regime by which intelligence agencies tap the fiber cables carrying internet traffic to analyze all electronic data that goes in or out of the U.K. We hope the Grand Chamber will determine that bulk collection is not lawful under the European Convention on Human Rights.

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Pennsylvania Is Taking Election Security Seriously

This time last year, Pennsylvania received a horrible grade in the Center for American Progress report on Election Security in All 50 States. Over the last year, the state has made significant improvements. More states can benefit from the approach that Pennsylvania took to developing its election security plan. Convening a diverse panel of experts to adapt industry best practices for local needs, and then codifying them into a series of recommendations, provides lawmakers with a blueprint for developing a long-term strategy.

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European Court of Human Rights to Reexamine Bulk Collection

On February 5, the European Court of Human Rights announced that the Grand Chamber will reexamine two cases that challenged the United Kingdom and Sweden’s bulk interception regimes. The minimum safeguards adopted in past ECtHR case law were unevenly applied between the two cases, resulting in confusion about what standards should govern bulk interception regimes. We hope the Grand Chamber will determine that bulk interception is not human rights-respecting, and that if it does not, that it will require robust safeguards that protect the privacy rights of those subject to these types of regimes.

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A “Smart Wall” That Fails to Protect Privacy and Civil Liberties Is Not Smart

Congress needs to be smart about this “smart wall.” CBP’s history of grossly mismanaging technology projects, and its liberal use of surveillance tools beyond the physical border, caution against a hands-off approach. Any funding Congress provides to invasive border surveillance technologies should be conditioned on efficacy requirements and limitations on use that are designed to preserve the human and civil rights of those against whom they will be used.

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