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The FBI’s “Black Identity Extremists” Report and the Surveillance Reform Debate

FISA Section 702 is nearing its expiration, and Congress should reform the law to protect Americans from warrantless surveillance. While the push to reform this law has emphasized the danger this poses to the rights of all Americans, FBI access to 702 data poses particular risk to journalists, immigrant communities, human rights activists, and civil rights activists who likely communicate frequently with foreigners. A recent FBI report on “Black Identity Extremists” (BIEs) suggests that black civil rights activists will be targeted for surveillance, which will include the FBI leveraging its access to Section 702 data.

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Tech Talk: Call Congress About Net Neutrality and 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 about two core CDT policy issues – preserving net neutrality and limiting government surveillance. Both are facing major challenges in the United States and we hear from CDT’s leads on each about the path ahead.

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Location Data: The More They Know

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Carpenter v. United States on November 29th. Carpenter centers on whether law enforcement needs a warrant to access 127 days of historic cell-site location information (CSLI). The case is important because of the great quantity of demands for location information now being made by law enforcement, because the location information that is sought is very revealing, and because law enforcement often obtains such data without obtaining a warrant, which increases the likelihood that sensitive location information about innocent people is collected. CDT argued strenuously that the Supreme Court should require law enforcement to get a warrant before accessing CSLI in its amicus brief in Carpenter v. United States. We hope the Supreme Court will agree.

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Automated “Extreme Vetting” Won’t Work and Will Be Discriminatory

Today, CDT joined 55 civil society groups, as well as leading computer and data science experts, to oppose the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) automated extreme vetting initiative. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) plans to use automated technology and social media data to decide who gets deported or denied entry to the United States. This initiative is not only discriminatory but also technically infeasible.

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Supreme Court Cases That Should Be Getting More Attention

In the midst of an exciting Supreme Court session, there are two significant cases awaiting a cert decision that have thus far generated surprisingly little media buzz considering the important questions they raise: Antonio Rios v. United States and Mohamed Osman Mohamud v. United States. Both present the Supreme Court an opportunity to resolve fraught privacy and civil liberties issues.

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Urgent Fix Needed: USA Liberty Act Needs To Better Focus Surveillance Under FISA 702

Last week, a bipartisan group of House Judiciary Committee members introduced the first bill to reform Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, H.R. 3989, also known as the USA Liberty Act. It contains many important provisions, including an end to the collection of communications to which the surveillance target is not even party. However, it fails to limit the scope of 702 surveillance and therefore permits the surveillance of people far removed from anti-terrorism goals its proponents cite. In fact, it authorizes surveillance of people engaged in harmless activity.

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DHS’s Misguided Social Media Retention Policy Jeopardizes Fundamental Freedoms

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an alarming notice that DHS would now retain social media information in Alien-Files (A-Files). A-Files are government records, generated in the immigration context, that include the records of an individual as they pass through the United States immigration process, and are retained by DHS for 100 years after the individual’s birthdate. This retention of social media information should not be brushed off as ‘business as usual’ for DHS. This policy, and its negative consequences for the free expression and privacy rights of both immigrants and U.S. citizens.

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