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Tag Archive: Surveillance

What the FISA Warrants Against Paul Manafort Tell Us About Mueller’s Investigation

 The Trump-Russia saga has more characters than War and Peace and plot twists harder to follow than Game of Thrones. So making sense of the latest news – that the FBI had taken out not one, but two surveillance orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort – can be difficult to put into context.  continue »

Opponents of Closing Sec. 702’s Backdoor Search Loophole are Distorting How the Fix Works

With less than five months to go until Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) expires, we still do not have a clear path forward to a reauthorization that would also address the law’s substantial problems.  A major reason for this is an impasse on what to do about the law’s most significant flaw: that it permits the government to seek out the content of Americans’ communications that have been swept up through Section 702 without any suspicion of wrongdoing, let alone a warrant, a problem known as “the backdoor search loophole.” Unfortunately, opponents of reforming the loophole have either failed to understand how the proposed fix to the loophole would actually work, or are describing it inaccurately in an effort to discredit reform.…   continue »

Palantir Contract Dispute Exposes NYPD’s Lack of Transparency

 

News that the New York Police Department (NYPD) is in a fight with Palantir Technologies over access to analytic data the company produced, raises a host of troubling questions. The dispute over the information stems from NYPD’s plans to cancel its contract with the data mining company as NYPD transitions to a new system —“Cobalt”— which it developed in partnership with IBM, as BuzzFeed recently reported.…   continue »

Never Waste A Good Crisis, FBI Edition

President Trump’s decision to summarily dismiss now-former FBI Director James Comey has sparked grave concerns in many quarters.  The move has been described as a profoundly dangerous example of the President’s authoritarian instincts.  It has led to warnings of a potential constitutional crisis, speculation whether the president is guilty of obstruction of justice, and skepticism that the President’s proffered reasons for the termination actually underlie his decision.  continue »

Letter to the Editor: Why Concerns Over FBI Queries Under Section 702 Are Overblown

 

In her recent article, “Broad Warrantless Surveillance Threatens to Undermine the Criminal Justice System,” Sarah St.Vincent writes that Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent comments regarding more rigorous enforcement of drug offenses heightens the concern that the FBI may improperly use information gathered on Americans under Section 702 of FISA to further low-level drug prosecutions.…   continue »

Questions to Ask As DHS Proposes Border Drones With Facial Recognition

 

In what could prove to be a Frankenstein combination of invasive technologies, the Department of Homeland Security is considering a project to arm Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) with drones using facial recognition scanning at the border. Specifically, the proposal states that “DHS is interested in sUAS [small drone] sensor technology with the following attributes ….…   continue »

Censorship at the Border Threatens Free Speech Everywhere

Defending one’s political and religious beliefs to government officials is an obligation we associate with life in authoritarian regimes, not open societies.  It’s becoming common, though, for foreign citizens who visit the United States—and even for Americans returning home after travel abroad—to be interrogated about their beliefs by customs and border personnel.…   continue »

Sally Yates, Russia Testimony & Executive Privilege in the Trump Era

This week has shed light on the Trump administration’s aggressive approach to executive privilege, but it has also cast doubt over President Donald Trump’s ability to assert it successfully over the longer term. We watched this play out when the Justice Department warned former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates that she needed White House clearance to testify before the House intelligence committee due to issues of executive privilege.…   continue »

Reforming Surveillance In the Age of Donald Trump

An NSA site in Germany.

On Wednesday, the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes (R-CA), gave a press conference in which he reported that Trump transition team members’ communications were intercepted by US intelligence agencies through “incidental collection.” This follows on Nunes’ concerns, after Michael Flynn stepped down following intelligence reports that he had talked to the Russian ambassador.…   continue »