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Sessions on Surveillance: Confirmation Hearing Confirms Concerns

The Senate will soon vote on President-elect Trump’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions. CDT and 14 other organizations sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee raising serious concerns about Sessions’ record on surveillance and privacy. Last week’s hearings confirmed some of our concerns and left us with more questions than answers about how Sessions would protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties as Attorney General.

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Intelligence Transparency and Yahoo Email Scanning

  Today, President-elect Trump is scheduled to meet with U.S. intelligence agencies to discuss evidence of Russian interference in the U.S. elections.  Mr. Trump has said that if the intelligence community has evidence of Russian interference, it should make that evidence public.  Part of this story is new: a president-elect is casting doubt on intelligence he hasn’t seen.  And part…

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Alexa, is Law Enforcement Listening?

Just days after Christmas, news broke that police in Bentonville, Arkansas, had issued a warrant to Amazon to turn over audio recordings from an Echo as part of a hot tub murder investigation. The sensational story brought with it a slate of headlines about new privacy concerns posed by the connected devices and the Internet of Things, but it also demonstrates how unclear legal standards and aggressive law enforcement interest in data can undermine the physical sanctity of our homes and inner lives.

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CDT Challenges Overly Broad Surveillance Demand On Facebook

Today, we joined the ACLU, the NYCLU, and the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in defense of the rights of 381 Facebook users whose records were sought en masse by the Manhattan District Attorney. We filed a brief arguing that Facebook has the right to challenge the warrants on behalf of its users, and to notify its users that the government was seeking the contents of their accounts.

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An Election Hacking Select Committee Carries Both Promise and Risk

Though not without risk, an independent select committee, that is not overly beholden to any stakeholder, and is as transparent in its deliberations as possible, may actually be a positive development as Congress and the country work to determine whether there was foreign interference in the U.S. election and how such interference in any democratic election can be prevented.

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Senate Inquiry into Backpage’s Content Moderation Practices Would Set Dangerous Precedent for Free Speech Online

CDT has long urged website operators to be transparent, fair, and consistent in developing and implementing their content policies. Companies have an obligation to respect the human rights of their users, and transparency about their content moderation activities is an integral part of that. But when the government attempts to engage in intense scrutiny of a website’s lawful decisions to host constitutionally protected speech, it creates a backdoor to censorship that threatens user speech across the internet.

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