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How the OPM Hack Demonstrates the Need to Improve CISA

The recent mass breach of computers at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has increased pressure on Congress to act to enhance cybersecurity. However, the OPM hack demonstrates the importance of strengthening the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA, S. 754) in two important ways that would not undermine the goals of the legislation.

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Why the OPM Data Breach is Unlike Any Other

The scope of the recent hack of the Office of Personnel Management, in which the records of millions of current and former federal employees were breached, is exponentially greater than the many other recent headline-generating breaches in the private sector. This breach not only impacts government employees but countless of their partners, associates, and confidantes, and the stolen information includes some of the most intimate personal details about the individuals affected. It also raises real questions about the government’s ability to safeguard the data in its possession.

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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, in his landmark…

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CDT’s Greg Nojeim Honored by American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

There are few civil liberties advocates that are more passionate or effective than Greg Nojeim. In his time at CDT, his tireless work has helped rein in overly intrusive government surveillance, enhance privacy protections online, and make government surveillance a human rights issue globally. CDT and all of those who work with Greg know what an incredible leader he is, and we are thrilled that the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is honoring him with their Ralph Johns Award. He will receive the award tomorrow night at their annual gala.

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Regaining Our Right to Live Freely and Be Left Alone

After weeks of political grandstanding, brash rhetoric, and failed power plays, one of the of the National Security Agency’s most egregious mass surveillance authorities is no more. This is a monumental victory for every American who values their privacy and freedom. While it was easy to get distracted by the posturing that took place in Congress, that’s the real meaning of this reform: our personal thoughts and expressions will not be swept up in a mass dragnet on the off chance they might be useful.

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Strong Encryption has a Posse

Perhaps the largest and most diverse coalition ever of tech companies, digital rights advocates, and security experts yesterday asked the Obama administration to support strong encryption and resist calls to weaken security mechanisms by requiring “backdoor” access or escrow of encryption keys. We gladly signed on to this effort to support strong encryption and to reject mandates that would weaken security.

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A Sunset of Section 215 Is Increasingly Likely

If the Senate passes a short-term extension of Sec. 215 or anything other than the USA FREEDOM Act – which cleared the House in a landslide – the House will have to approve the new package. Yet the sunset of Sec. 215 will actually occur before the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote again. A sunset, even a very short one, may dramatically change the debate on surveillance reform. No longer would members of Congress be voting on the extension or reform of a current law, they would then be forced to vote to re-instate a defunct law that codifies an unpopular and unnecessary surveillance practice.

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UN Member States Call for US Surveillance Reforms

Last week, the UN Human Rights Council conducted the Universal Periodic Review (“UPR”) of the United States. The Administration should give immediate and serious consideration to countries’ recommendations to recognize that human rights apply to all surveillance; that any surveillance program must be subject to adequate judicial, congressional, and independent oversight; and that anyone whose fundamental rights are violated by surveillance activities must have access to effective redress.

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Senators’ Questionable Claims about NSA Bulk Collection

On May 7th, 2015, the Second Circuit issued a ruling that declared the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records was clearly unlawful under the Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. The ruling provided another boost to supporters of surveillance reform and the backers of the USA FREEDOM Act. Hours after the ruling came down, several U.S. Senators took to the Senate Floor to forcefully defend the NSA’s bulk collection program. The Senators made some statements that merit a second look, and serious skepticism.

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Controversial French Surveillance Regulation Should Re-Ignite EU Debate on Surveillance Reform

France is moving ahead with new legislation to enable expanded electronic surveillance. As expected, the surveillance bill, the Projet de Loi Relatif au Renseignement, was passed by Members of the French National Assembly. A wide range of French civil society groups, lawyers, and technology industry groups have voiced strong opposition to the bill from its inception. Indeed, the bill is so excessive that we believe it could, and should, lead to a renewed debate on surveillance reform across Europe.

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