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Category Archives: Privacy

The French Response to Terror: Counterterrorism Detention and Prosecutions Across the Atlantic

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 12:15 PM

In the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a kosher grocery, Western European security forces unleashed a dizzying storm of arrests and prosecutions and announced “exceptional” new measures to combat terrorism. In the space of just a few days, dozens of suspects were detained in Belgium, France and Germany, many of whom were questioned for days without . . .
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The NRC’s Bulk Collection Report: a High-Level Overview

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 3:00 PM

Last week, Wells noted the release of an important, 85-page report by the National Research Council. (Yesterday, Herb Lin added his thoughts about it.) Broadly, Bulk Collection of Signals Intelligence: Technical Options concludes that right now, there are no software-based techniques that could fully replace the bulk collection of data. Below, I offer a high-level, . . .
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What David Cameron Doesn’t Get

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 10:30 AM

Last week British Prime Minister David Cameron gave an extraordinary speech in which he urged the the banning of private communications, that is communications to which the government could not listen into when legally authorized to do so. Cameron is not the first government official to do so; GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan urged the same . . .
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President Obama Comments on Back-doors in Encryption

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Friday, January 16, 2015 at 5:50 PM

We’ve yet to find a transcript of President Obama’s remarks during today’s press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, but according to several news outlets, the President made a number of interesting statements regarding cybersecurity and data encryption. “If we get into a situation which the technologies do not allow us at all to track . . .
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Did the FBI Just Prevent an Attack in DC from a Homegrown ISIS Supporter?

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 6:12 PM

A very, very big arrest in Cincinnati today, involving allegations that a man named Christopher Cornell (online alias Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah) had planned to travel to DC in order to carry out an attack (via assault rifle) at the Capitol. It appears Cornell was arrested today after he purchased two ArmaLite M-15s. How did the . . .
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Lawfare Buys A Bitcoin—Buying the Coin

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 11:04 AM

So . . .  you can’t explore bitcoins unless you actually have one in hand. If you don’t then, well, it’s really all pretty theoretical. We wanted to have some skin in the game, so to speak, so we decided we needed a bitcoin of our own.  For reasons that will become clear as we . . .
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District Court Suppresses Pole Camera Surveillance Footage

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Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Twitter brings news of this interesting little order in United States v. Vargas.  The court’s opinion was authored by Judge Edward F. Shea and opens: The first duty of government is the safety of its people—by Constitutional means and methods. Technology, including the means for covert surveillance of individuals through the use of a hidden video camera . . .
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The 2014 Cato Institute Surveillance Conference

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Last Friday, the Cato Institute held an all-day conference to explore the questions raised by the growth of government surveillance, the revelations of NSA activities by Edward Snowden, and how these newly disclosed technologies should be regulated by the Fourth Amendment and federal law. Ben took part in the conversation on the second panel, which included Charlie . . .
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Our Collective Privacy Panic

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Monday, December 15, 2014 at 11:30 AM

We are told there is a privacy crisis.  The Snowden revelation and other such things have given the sense that we are in a crisis.  I think what we have is a privacy panic.  What I would call the Snowden left, joined by the Tea Party right, are churning this up way past any reasonable . . .
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Over 700 Million People Taking Steps to Avoid NSA Surveillance

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Monday, December 15, 2014 at 9:02 AM

There’s a new international survey on Internet security and trust, of “23,376 Internet users in 24 countries,” including “Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.” Amongst the findings, 60% of Internet . . .
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White House Proposes Funds for Police Body Cameras

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Monday, December 1, 2014 at 3:22 PM

The privacy- and oversight-relevant news comes to us via this Associated Press story. It begins as follows: WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama wants to see more police wearing cameras to help build trust between the public and police by recording events like the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, but is not seeking to pull back federal . . .
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Pew Study Says Exactly What You’d Expect on Privacy

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Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 9:09 AM

The Pew Research Internet Project has released a new public opinion study that shows exactly what you would expect the public believes about privacy, surveillance, and related matters. The study seems to have involved a major effort, and I read it yesterday expecting to find some new insight into public opinion about privacy. Nope. Nothing. . . .
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PCLOB Hearing on “Defining Privacy”

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 9:50 AM

It’s ongoing now.  Details are available here. and live streaming video is available over at C-SPAN.

Privacy as a Utilitarian Value

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 9:30 AM

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is is an advisory body to assist the President and other senior Executive branch officials in ensuring that concerns with respect to privacy and civil liberties are appropriately considered in the implementation of all laws, regulations, and executive branch policies related to war against terrorism.    On November 12th . . .
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More on Pass Phrases and Fingerprints …. Gestures

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Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Yesterday I posted a short blog on an interesting VA decision regarding the application the Fifth Amendment privilege to the question of unlocking cell phones and other devices.  The short summary is that the court held that compelling disclosure of a pass phrase or code was protected and could not be compelled, but that the . . .
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Pass Phrases Protected; Fingerprints Not — Curiouser and Curiouser

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Friday, November 7, 2014 at 8:58 AM

One of the most engaging contemporary debates is about the efficacy and utility of encryption as a means of protecting privacy. I’ve written, in the past, about how encryption works and about the growing body of Fifth Amendment law protecting users against compelled disclosure of their passphrases. The developing doctrine and technology is sufficiently alarming . . .
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On Ryan Goodman’s “Interrogation” of the “Parity Principle”

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Monday, November 3, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Over at Just Security, Ryan Goodman analyzes UN Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson’s claim that states owe the same privacy protections to non-nationals abroad as to their own citizens at home in conducting broad surveillance programs. Emmerson had written, “The Special Rapporteur thus considers that States are legally obliged to afford the same privacy protection for nationals and . . .
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On Journalists’ Claims for Immunity From Legal Accountability

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Monday, November 3, 2014 at 8:37 AM

I think I am unusual among former government officials in arguing that the publication of national security secrets can promote democracy and good government.  Such publications are often costly, sometimes very costly, to national security – more so than is generally realized.  But as I wrote in Power and Constraint, “it does not follow that . . .
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Sweeping Claims and Casual Legal Analysis in the Latest U.N. Mass Surveillance Report

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Monday, October 20, 2014 at 4:11 PM

U.N. Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson’s report on “mass surveillance” may signal increasing conflict between the US and world bodies on surveillance issues.  The Emmerson report makes sweeping normative claims but fails to ground those claims in an accurate description of the US surveillance program.  The report claims, for example, that a state must impose the . . .
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U.N. Special Rapporteur Report on Mass Digital Surveillance and Article 17 of the ICCPR

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Here it is, via First Look. The latest from the U.N. Special Rapporteur for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms While Countering Terrorism, Ben Emmerson QC, concludes as follows (note the language in paragraph 59): 58. States’ obligations under article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights include the . . .
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