The department argues that a provision giving greater power to amici arguing before the FISA Court could endanger national security. That argument strains credulity.
Jake Laperruque is Senior Counsel at the Constitution Project at the Project on Government Oversight. He oversees work on privacy, surveillance, and cybersecurity issues, highlighting how emerging technologies impact Constitutional rights and principles. His work focuses on foreign intelligence surveillance, location privacy, cellphone privacy, facial recognition, aerial surveillance, and election security. Previously, Jake worked as the fellow on Privacy, Surveillance, and Security at the Center for Democracy & Technology and as a Program Fellow at the Open Technology Institute. He also served as a law clerk on the Senate Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law. Jake is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Washington University in St. Louis.
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As facial recognition becomes an increasingly common law enforcement tool, the risks it can pose are becoming increasingly clear.
President Trump recently nominated Travis LeBlanc and Aditya Bamzai as members of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), placing a full set of five nominees before the Senate and creating the possibility that the inquorate body could soon be revived. (A quorum requires three members; since early 2017, the body’s only member has been Elisabeth Collins.) This would be a welcome change.
We are rapidly approaching the point where Congress must decide the future of Section 702 of FISA, the authority for the PRISM and Upstream warrantless surveillance programs that expires at the end of this year. Unfortunately, as was made apparent during last week’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, so far much of the defense of Section 702 has centered on the surface-level rationale that Section 702 is too valuable to allow to sunset.
With FISA Section 702 set to expire at the end of the year, Congress will soon move to a debate over reform and reauthorization for the first time since the Snowden revelations. Undoubtedly, one high-profile reform proposal will be closing the “backdoor search loophole.” Doing so would prohibit government queries deliberately seeking out Americans’ communications without first obtaining a warrant, an essential step forward.
In today’s digital age, virtually everything we do is in some way collected and catalogued. This phenomenon will grow as the Internet of Things expands, cameras in public become more common, and tracking technologies like GPS become more effective. At the same time, the government’s focus on counterterrorism since 9/11 has amplified the role of surveillance to an unprecedented degree.