The lawfulness of bulk collection and applicable privacy rules should not depend on the technical details of the NSA’s collection that have nothing to do with the privacy interests involved. New documents obtained by the New York Times confirm just how incoherent our surveillance laws have become.
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Reform will require changes to American law in two areas – (1) limiting “generalised” surveillance, and (2) providing expanded redress for foreign citizens.
Now that the Senate has passed—and the President has signed—the USA FREEDOM Act, we thought it might be a good idea to recap what exactly the new law does and does not do.
With the Senate continuing its dangerous brinksmanship regarding the imminent expiration of three Patriot Act provisions, opponents of NSA bulk data collection seem poised to celebrate whatever happens. McConnell’s efforts to extend the Patriot Act unchanged lack enough support to pass either chamber. A last-minute deal to pass the USA Freedom Act may be in the works, but would still face a number of procedural and political hurdles.
Congress is playing brinksmanship again, this time over the national-security metadata collection program. Until the Second Circuit concluded that Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act did not authorize bulk metadata collection, it looked as if the law would be renewed before its expiration at midnight on May 31.
Lawfare is pleased to announce the publication of a new -- and timely -- paper in the Lawfare Research Paper Series: An Essay on Domestic Surveillance, by Philip B. Heymann, law professor at Harvard Law School and former Deputy Attorney General in the first Clinton Administration. (The paper can be found under the Special Features/Research Papers tab at the top of the Lawfare main page, where it is listed on the index of Lawfare Research Papers.
Our friend Carrie Cordero has levied criticisms against three of the recommendations presented in our report, What Went Wrong With the FISA Court. We appreciate, as always, her constructive engagement with us on these issues. In the same spirit, we offer these points in response.
Following up on my post from last week on the report of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) of the UK Parliament, which inter alia recommended that British law for the first time introduce distinctions between citizens and non-citizens for the purpose of regulating electronic surveillance, I'd like to briefly comment on another relevant development.
The civil liberties group's report was released today. It was authored by Elizabeth Goitein and Faiza Patel (who has contributed pieces to Lawfare), and has a foreword by retired U.S. District Judge James Robertson---a former member of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Here are the report's key recommendations:
Last night, Laura Poitras’s Citizenfour received an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, a win I have been anticipating since Glenn Greenwald won the Pulitzer Prize back in April for breaking the Edward Snowden leaks.