Internet Metadata Collection

President Obama's Speech and PPD-28

By Joel Brenner
Friday, January 17, 2014, 7:30 PM
I had two reactions to President Obama's address,  one general and another specific.
First the general.  President Obama made a good speech today, both for what he said and what he didn't say.  He has already made clear, through his policies and practices, what he wants the Executive Branch to do.  If the Congress wants to impose new rules on an Agency that hasn't pursued programs that violate the existing rules, Congress must do it.  Pushing certain details to Congress was the right thing to do.  Now it's up to them to put up or shut up.  Nor was there any point in being more detailed than he was on the nature of the privacy advocates panel for the FISC.  Anything he did in that regard would be hashed over on the Hill anyway.  Meanwhile the FISC judges are most unlikely to make any basic rulings without inviting such advocacy.
As for the specific, a key provision of PPD-28---the key policy instructions released alongside the President's speech---has been completely over-looked.  It appears to respond to justifiable criticism that the country was not prepared for the last meeting, in Dubai, of the World Conference on International Telecommunications and the International Telecommunications Union ("ITU") and is not preparing for an ITU meeting in Korea at the end of this year.  These meetings are likely to have a significant impact on global internet governance.  The United States can no longer simply say "No" to ideas coming from the rest of the world.  Our country must state clearly what it stands for and organize to protect freedom of expression internationally.  I think (and hope) that that's what the following paragraph in section 4 of PPD-28 is all about:

(d) Coordinator for International Diplomacy. The Secretary of State shall identify a senior official within the Department of State to coordinate with the responsible departments and agencies the United States Government's diplomatic and foreign policy efforts related to international information technology issues and to serve as a point of contact for foreign governments who wish to raise concerns regarding signals intelligence activities conducted by the United States.