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Category Archives: Free Speech

US DOJ IG Report – Review of the FBI’s Use of Section 215 Orders

FBI’s Use of Section 215 Orders: Assessment of Progress in Implementing Recommendations and Examination of Use in 2007 through 2009, Oversight and Review Division Report 15-05. May 2015. Redacted.

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) announced today the release of a public version of its most recent report examining the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) use of the investigative authority granted by Section 215 of the Patriot Act to obtain business records. The OIG provided a classified version of this report to Congress and to DOJ leadership in February 2015. The report reviews the FBI’s use of Section 215 authority from 2007 through 2009, and also examines the DOJ’s and FBI’s progress in addressing the
recommendations contained in the OIG’s 2008 report on the FBI’s use of Section 215. This is the OIG’s third report since 2007 on the FBI’s use of Section 215 authority.As described in the public version of the report released today, the OIG found that from 2007through 2009 the DOJ, on behalf of the FBI, submitted 51 Section 215 applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court), all of which were approved. The report notes that the scope of business records sought under Section 215 greatly expanded in response to legislative changes, technological advances, and strategic choices, and that Section 215 orders have been used in investigations of groups comprised of unknown members and to obtain information in bulk concerning persons who are not the subjects of or associated with any FBI investigation. We concluded that these developments require continued and significant oversight by appropriate entities, including the FISA Court and the DOJ’s National Security Division. We also concluded that the DOJ and the FBI have addressed the three recommendations from our 2008 report, but that with respect to one of the recommendations the DOJ should have met its statutory obligation considerably earlier than it did…Section 215 allows the FBI to seek an order from the FISA Court to obtain “any tangible thing,”including books, records, and other items, from anybusiness, organization, or entity, provided the item or items are for an authorized investigation to protect against international terrorismor clandestine intelligence activities. The report publicly released today describes how legislative and technological changes, including society’s increased use of the Internet, have expanded the quality and quantity of electronic information available through the use of Section 215 authority. We found that the FBI has broadened the scope of the materials it has sought, and that the materials produced in response to Section 215 orders range from hard copy reproductions of business ledgers and receipts to gigabytes of metadata and other electronic information. Moreover, Section 215 authority is not limited to requesting information related to the known subjects of specific underlying investigations, and we found that the authority has been used in investigations of groups comprised of unknown members and to obtain information in bulk concerning persons who are not the subjects of or associated with any FBI investigation.”

Du-Vote: Remote Electronic Voting with Untrusted Computers

Du-Vote: Remote Electronic Voting with Untrusted Computers. Gurchetan S. Grewal, School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, UK;  Mark D. Ryan, School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, UK; Liqun Chen, HP Laboratories, Bristol, UK; Michael R. Clarkson, Department of Computer Science, Cornell University, US. [via ReadWrite] “Abstract —Du-Vote is a new remote electronic votingContinue Reading

Reddit Now Sharing Notices with Chilling Effects

Chilling Effects Team on May 13, 2015 [Chilling Effects is a project of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.] “We at Chilling Effects are thrilled to share Reddit’s announcement that the site has begun sharing takedown notices with us! Following on the heels of the release of its first transparency report earlier this year,Continue Reading

UN – Universal Periodic Review – United States

“The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the humanContinue Reading

DHS Defends Government Secrecy in “Internet Kill Switch” Case

EPIC – “The Department of Homeland Security has filed a brief in response to EPIC’s petition for rehearing in the “Internet Kill Switch” case. EPIC is seeking the release of the public policy that allows the government to suspend cell phone service. The D.C. Circuit previously ruled that DHS may withhold the policy. EPIC pursuedContinue Reading

New State of America’s Libraries Report finds shift in role of U.S. libraries

ALA News: “According to The State of America’s Libraries Report released today by the American Library Association (ALA), academic, public and school libraries are experiencing a shift in how they are perceived by their communities and society. No longer just places for books, libraries of all types are viewed as anchors, centers for academic lifeContinue Reading

A Deep Dive Into Party Affiliation

Pew Report – “Democrats hold advantages in party identification among blacks, Asians, Hispanics, well-educated adults and Millennials. Republicans have leads among whites – particularly white men, those with less education and evangelical Protestants – as well as members of the Silent Generation. A new analysis of long-term trends in party affiliation among the public providesContinue Reading

Brookings Essay – Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Terrorists

The Big Snoop – The divergent views of four respected experts help frame the debate over the future of the NSA in the Snowden Era – Stuart Taylor, Jr.:  “With the approach of the first anniversary of the most copious and sensational leakage of intelligence secrets in history, the consequences of his actions continue toContinue Reading

Open Government Guide

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: “The Open Government Guide is a complete compendium of information on every state’s open records and open meetings laws. Each state’s section is arranged according to a standard outline, making it easy to compare laws in various states. If you’re a new user of this guide, be sureContinue Reading

5 ways to keep your data safe right now

Christopher Soghoian is a TED Fellow, and the principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, where he monitors the intersection of federal surveillance and citizen’s rights. Before joining the ACLU, he was the first-ever technologist for the Federal Trade Commission’s Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, where he worked on investigations of Facebook, Twitter,Continue Reading

Pew – The Internet’s Influence in Emerging, Developing Nations

Internet Usage More Common Among the Young, Well-Educated and English Speakers: “As more people around the world gain access to all the tools of the digital age, the internet will play a greater role in everyday life. And so far, people in emerging and developing nations say that the increasing use of the internet hasContinue Reading

2014 General Social Survey includes data on wealth, social identity, civic participation

“Since 1972, the General Social Survey (GSS) has been monitoring societal change and studying the growing complexity of American society. The GSS aims to gather data on contemporary American society in order to monitor and explain trends and constants in attitudes, behaviors, and attributes; to examine the structure and functioning of society in general asContinue Reading