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With the rise of modern technologies, the scope and scale of government surveillance has exploded. The use of digital communication has made communication more efficient, but also much more vulnerable. Governments, meanwhile, are increasing their capacity to exploit these vulnerabilities, and companies, their ability to thwart them. Both the PATRIOT act and the Snowden disclosures pushed the issue to the front of the national conversation. Today, the legal and policy debate—over what kind of surveillance tools are acceptable, against whom, and with with whose authorization—continues in full force.

Latest in Surveillance


Surveillance Policy in a Trump Administration

Last week, co-authors Michèle Flournoy, Richard Fontaine, and I released a Center for a New American Security report on the future of surveillance policy. This post will examine what our approach can offer the new administration, given what its incoming members have said about surveillance issues and the commitments that the President-elect himself has made on the campaign trail.

FISA: 702 Collection

Why the 9th Circuit Was Right in Mohamed Mohamud, and a Startling Thing It May Have Gotten Wrong

Earlier this week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a long-awaited opinion in U.S. v. Mohamed Mohamud. The opinion has gotten some bounce, with pieces by Orin Kerr in the Post and by Jennifer Daskal and Elizabeth Goitein in Just Security. Thus far, reviews have been largely critical. But the critics are mistaken: the Court got it right.

Annals of the Trump Administration

Annals of the Trump Administration #2: Which Executive Orders and Directives Are Doomed?

What security-related executive orders are likely to be repealed in whole or in part soon after Donald Trump is sworn in as president?  I list some obvious ones below, and will be happy to update the list with predictions others may send me.

1. Executive Order 13491  (Jan. 22, 2009) ("Ensuring Lawful Interrogation")


Relative vs. Absolute Approaches to the Content/Metadata Line

One of the foundational questions in surveillance law is how to distinguish between the contents of communications and non-content metadata. Identifying the line between the two is critical. Earlier this week, the ODNI declassified an April 2016 FISCR decision that adopts an approach to the distinction in some tension with a recent Third Circuit case. 

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