Related Press Releases

Significant Surveillance Reforms in Section 702 Bill; Much More Must Be Added

Today, the Republican and Democratic heads of the House Judiciary Committee revealed the “USA Liberty Act,” legislation that would reform and reauthorize an important intelligence surveillance authority that would otherwise sunset on December 31. The legislation marks an important step forward, but it must do more to protect the rights of both U.S. and global citizens.

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After London attacks, British prime minister calls for worldwide Internet regulations to fight terrorism

Washington Post: “May’s government now has incredible compulsory powers to do both targeted and bulk surveillance in her country,” said Michelle Richardson, deputy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington-based think tank. “The only thing left you could seem to grab would be a complete surveillance state. If you’re proposing to go even further than the current authority, there’s not much you could do beyond that that isn’t an explicit attack on human rights.”

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NSA Halts Part of Invasive Surveillance Program, Need for Section 702 Reform Highlighted

The NSA is stopping a controversial part of its warrantless surveillance conducted under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which permits the targeting of non-U.S. persons outside the U.S. It reportedly abandoned the practice of collecting communications that merely mention an identifier associated with a target, such as an email address or telephone number. This “about” collection swept in many communications that involved Americans. NSA will continue to collect communications to which the target is actually a party. CDT has advocated against this form of untargeted surveillance.

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UK Surveillance Bill Introduced with Rushed Process, Limited Regard for Human Rights Concerns

The United Kingdom’s new Investigatory Powers Bill has now been formally introduced to the UK Parliament by Home Secretary Theresa May. This introduction comes less than three weeks after a major parliamentary committee tasked with scrutinizing the Bill issued a highly critical report calling for significant changes. Perhaps not surprisingly, the newly published text appears to make few concessions to the serious human rights concerns that Members of Parliament and others have raised.

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UK Parliament Report Rejects Encryption Backdoors, Other Parts of Sweeping Surveillance Bill

The UK Parliament’s Draft Investigatory Powers Bill Joint Committee—a group of Members of Parliament charged with assessing a draft of sweeping new surveillance legislation—issued an important report recommending significant changes to the proposed law. The Committee’s report explicitly opposes any government effort to require encryption backdoors, urges the adoption of clearer definitions of key terms, recommends that the new body that would authorize UK surveillance be more independent, and calls out provisions for supposedly “targeted” surveillance that could be abused by authorities who wish to spy on large numbers of people.

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EU and US Reach New Data-Sharing Agreement

Associated Press: “Absent reform of U.S. surveillance law, it is highly unlikely that the Privacy Shield agreement will be deemed sufficient by the (European) Court of Justice,” said Jens-Henrik Jeppesen, director of European affairs. He called on the U.S. Congress to swiftly move to reform its surveillance law and for EU member states to narrow their own surveillance laws and practices to also be more aligned with international human rights norms.

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EU-US “Privacy Shield”: A Partial, Interim Solution

Today the European Commission outlined an EU-US agreement on a framework for transatlantic data flows – the “Privacy Shield”. The agreement is intended to replace the Safe Harbor agreement, struck down by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in October 2015. The text of the agreement was not released and is not expected to be released for several weeks. CDT offers our initial thoughts.

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Paris attacks should be ‘wake up call’ for more digital surveillance, CIA director says

Washington Post: In the Paris attack, Center for Democracy and Technology human rights and surveillance fellow Sarah St. Vincent said lack of transparency about the country’s new surveillance laws makes it hard to tell to what went wrong. “There hasn’t been enough information available that could give the legislature or the public a way to evaluate if they are effective,” she said.

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The Implications of the European Safe Harbor Decision

Net Politics: Meanwhile, privacy advocates are citing the decision to prod Congress to engage in much broader reform U.S. surveillance programs. Jens Henrik-Jeppesen, director of European affairs for the Center for Democracy and Technology, for example, said “There is a clear need for the U.S. and Europe to set clear, lawful and proportionate standards and safeguards for conducting surveillance for national security purposes.

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