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Category Archives: Surveillance: NSA Warrantless Wiretapping

NSA Spying Will Begin Winding Down This Week: Justice Department Memo

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 6:11 PM

Dustin Volz of the National Journal has obtained a memo from the Department of Justice circulated among congressional offices today that says the NSA will need to begin taking steps to wind down the bulk telephone metadata collection program authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act by Friday, May 22nd. The memo makes clear . . .
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McConnell Introduces 2 Month NSA Extension

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Friday, May 15, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Likely you’ve heard: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) last night introduced a bill that would reauthorize portions of the Patriot Act set to expire on June 1 for two months, giving lawmakers extra time to consider whether to approve the USA Freedom Act, a clean re-authorization of the Patriot Act’s provisions, or some other formulation. . . .
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Forty Years After Church-Pike: What’s Different Now?

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Friday, May 15, 2015 at 10:35 AM

That is the title of remarks which I will deliver this morning at the National Security Agency, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Church and Pike hearings.  My speech begins as follows: You honor me greatly by inviting me back to address you today. I hope to prove worthy of it. About ten years ago, when . . .
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Today: House Votes on USA FREEDOM Act

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at 11:19 AM

The full U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to consider H.R. 2048, otherwise known as the USA Freedom Act today. Yesterday, the White House expressed support for the bill, as the Rules Committee voted 8-3 along party lines to prohibit amendments from the floor. The bill is expected to pass easily on a bipartisan basis. We’ll . . .
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Lawfare Research Paper Series: An Essay on Domestic Surveillance by Philip B. Heymann

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Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 4:00 PM

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 . . .
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A Few Thoughts on the Second Circuit’s 215 Decision and Its Importance

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Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 11:11 AM

From day one of the Snowden revelations, we all knew that the legal validity of the 215 program hinged ultimately on the capaciousness of a single word: “relevant.” Even those of us who generally support robust signals intelligence programs also knew immediately that the legal theory underlying this program lay right at the margins, perhaps beyond . . .
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Second Circuit Strikes Down 215 Program

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Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 9:53 AM

Here’s the opinion. I haven’t read it yet, but will have comments when I do. Specifically, the court rules that the program is not authorized by the text of the statute. 2d Circuit Clapper Opinion

New York Times Gets Stellarwind IG Report Under FOIA

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Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 10:40 AM

It’s big (750 pages) and we haven’t read it yet, but here it is. And here’s the New York Times story on the report: WASHINGTON — The secrecy surrounding the National Security Agency’s post-9/11 warrantless surveillance and bulk data collection program hampered its effectiveness, and many members of the intelligence community later struggled to identify . . .
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The Continuing Democratization of QUANTUM Technology

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Friday, April 24, 2015 at 2:15 PM

From my book Data and Goliath: …when I was working with the Guardian on the Snowden documents, the one top-secret program the NSA desperately did not want us to expose was QUANTUM. This is the NSA’s program for what is called packet injection­ — basically, a technology that allows the agency to hack into computers. . . .
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The Power of Citizenship Bias

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Monday, March 23, 2015 at 3:00 PM

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. . . .
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Stop Spying on Wikipedia Users – Comment on NY Times editorial

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 6:00 PM

The New York Times today has an op-ed by the founder of Wikipedia called Stop Spying on Wikipedia Users. The op-ed asserts that “N.S.A.’s mass surveillance of Internet traffic on American soil — often called “upstream” surveillance — violates the Fourth Amendment, which protects the right to privacy, as well as the First Amendment, which . . .
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Fishing Expedition

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Friday, February 27, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Do you worry that the NSA, perhaps in a joint program with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, might be considering a “collect-it-all” program to seize and monitor fish, crocodiles, or antelopes for national security purposes?  If so – and I think I may have read something about this on The Intercept – you can . . .
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Expanding on the International vs. U.S. Surveillance Law Comparisons

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Following my post from last week  regarding how the debate over the Snowden disclosures has blurred the distinctions between national security surveillance authorities and consumer privacy law, Tim Edgar pointed out yesterday  that U.S. law is probably one of the most, if not the most, protective legal structures concerning government access to data for national . . .
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Mysterious Discretion: When Journalists Wield Power We Don’t Understand

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Monday, February 23, 2015 at 2:00 PM

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. In honor of the occasion, let’s reflect on the single most compelling moment in Citizenfour. I am talking about the moment in the . . .
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DNI Report on Implementation of Signals Intelligence Reforms: Some Highlights

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Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 8:14 PM

Last week the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released its 2015 Signals Intelligence Reform Report, designed to highlight the intelligence community’s implementation of Presidential Policy Directive (PPD)-28. The document is a mixed bag: There’s some aspirational, high-altitude language; the report also reaffirms previously known intelligence community views regarding the legality of certain operations . . .
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Declassified FISA Court Orders Fill in History of NSA Warrantless Surveillance

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Friday, January 30, 2015 at 8:30 AM

Some key news from earlier in the week: The New York Times obtained two previously classified rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) from May and August 2007. Authored by Judge Roger Vinson (a district court judge who has since left the FISC), the pair were handed to the Times in response to a FOIA lawsuit.  The Times’ Charlie . . .
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Harvard Event with Bruce Schneier and Edward Snowden

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Monday, January 26, 2015 at 12:20 PM

On Friday, the former spoke by videolink with the latter, about (unsurprisingly enough) surveillance, privacy and data security. Youtube has a video of their discussion:

NRC Study on (The Lack of) Software-Based Replacements for Bulk Collection

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Friday, January 16, 2015 at 11:34 AM

Scientific Computing had this news yesterday, about the important DNI-ordered study from the National Research Council: WASHINGTON, DC — No software-based technique can fully replace the bulk collection of signals intelligence, but methods can be developed to more effectively conduct targeted collection and to control the usage of collected data, says a new report from the National . . .
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An Overview of the NSA’s Declassified Intelligence Oversight Board Reports

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Thursday, January 8, 2015 at 4:06 PM

As reported last month, the NSA in late December declassified more than ten years of NSA quarterly reports to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB). In them, the NSA lists, with varying degrees of detail and redaction, suspected violations of policies intended to ensure that the NSA’s intelligence gathering activities are in conformity with its . . .
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Obstacles Loom for States’ Proposed “Fourth Amendment Protection” Laws

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 9:30 AM

Legislators in several states have proposed bills over the past year intended to hamper the NSA’s efforts to collect signals intelligence.  In Utah, the site of a large NSA data center, a proposed bill would prevent the state, its cities, and its agencies from providing “material support or assistance in any form to any federal . . .
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