Pan­el descrip­tion: A recent­ly launched cam­paign in Europe calls on indi­vid­u­als to “vote for [their] dig­i­tal rights.” How­ev­er, no such move­ment has caught on in the Unit­ed States, despite the upcom­ing elec­tion cycle. Ral­lies and events—including the Ral­ly to End Mass Sur­veil­lance and the Day We Fight Back—have demon­strat­ed wide sup­port for sur­veil­lance reform. By edu­cat­ing the pub­lic about sur­veil­lance issues, dig­i­tal rights activists can ensure vot­ers under­stand where their elect­ed lead­ers stand on defend­ing our pri­va­cy and Con­sti­tu­tion­al rights. The elec­tion year also offers an oppor­tu­ni­ty to engage with Con­gress mem­bers direct­ly on sur­veil­lance. This pan­el will dis­cuss the polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment around sur­veil­lance reform, includ­ing grass­roots engage­ment and the poten­tial for lead­er­ship on the issues. The pan­el will con­clude with a dis­cus­sion of the ongo­ing chal­lenges faced in com­mu­ni­cat­ing to the pub­lic audi­ence on the so-called “bal­ance” between nation­al secu­ri­ty and civ­il liberties.

This pan­el is mod­er­at­ed by Amie Stepanovich who is Senior Pol­i­cy Coun­sel at Access. Amie is an expert in domes­tic sur­veil­lance, cyber­se­cu­ri­ty, and pri­va­cy law. At Access, Amie leads projects on dig­i­tal due process and responds to threats at the inter­sec­tion of human rights and com­mu­ni­ca­tions surveillance.

Amer­i­cans do get that sur­veil­lance is hap­pen­ing even though Oba­ma says it’s not. How­ev­er many Amer­i­cans believe that it does­n’t direct­ly affect them. The real prob­lem in Amer­i­ca is that many believe that “If I am not doing any­thing wrong, I should have noth­ing to wor­ry about.” So there is work to be done in order to make NSA sur­veil­lance an elec­tion issue.

One suc­cess in fight­ing NSA Sur­veil­lance was an amend­ment, the Massie-Lof­gren Amend­ment, added to an annu­al defense spend­ing bill to end back­door spy­ing and sab­o­tage com­mer­cial soft­ware with back­door entry points. But more work needs to be done. The unfet­tered sur­veil­lance has a chill­ing effect on our democracy.

Since 911 there is a lot of shar­ing of this infor­ma­tion going on. Your per­son­al infor­ma­tion that the NSA col­lects can go all the way down to the “bungling local cop”.

JTTF, or Joint Ter­ror­ism Task Force has secret con­tracts with local law enforce­ment which essen­tial­ly draft local law enforce­ment into act­ing as part of the fed­er­al anti-ter­ror­ism force.

Fusion Cen­ters were cre­at­ed by US DHS to facil­i­tate shar­ing the col­lect­ed per­son­al data. All this data can be used to pro­file indi­vid­u­als. For exam­ple, a Mus­lim who makes many calls out­side the US could be labeled as a ter­ror­ist suspect.

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s planned reform of data col­lec­tion will immu­nize cor­po­ra­tions. It is actu­al­ly an expan­sion because not only will call meta­da­ta be col­lec­tion, but cell phone con­nec­tions will be logged. For instance, just cell phones being in the same room, being in range of each oth­er will be logged.

One vio­la­tion of the law that is cur­rent­ly hap­pen­ing is that if some­one is being inves­ti­gat­ed, queries to the NSA data­base will return all infor­ma­tion logged with­in the pre­vi­ous 5 years. This includes all indis­crim­i­nate data.

Anoth­er prob­lem is that not all con­gress­men have access to what is going on in the intel­li­gence agen­cies. Con­gress­men who don’t have access are told to just go along with those mem­bers who are on the Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, because “they are the ones who have the infor­ma­tion”. How­ev­er, those on the Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee are not shar­ing much infor­ma­tion with oth­er con­gres­sion­al members.

Anoth­er prob­lem­at­ic issue is that with Oba­ma’s reform, secrets clas­si­fi­ca­tions can be award­ed to those out­side of the gov­ern­ment, such as bankers. This would mean bankers and peo­ple in oth­er cor­po­ra­tions could have access to your per­son­al infor­ma­tion that the NSA has collected.

Exec­u­tive order 12333 is also prob­lem­at­ic because there is no over­sight, either by con­gress or the courts. Even though the exec­u­tive order involves col­lect­ing over­seas data, a lot of domes­tic data is col­lect­ed through this as well. Even Fein­stein, who defends the col­lec­tion of sur­veil­lance data includ­ing cell phone meta data, has said that there are no pri­va­cy pro­tec­tions built in.

NSA lost its push for the Clip­per Chip in a pre­vi­ous bat­tle to enable back­doors in encryp­tion, how­ev­er, the NSA is still work­ing on putting back­doors into encryp­tion stan­dards. One dri­ving force for this in a “sur­veil­lance state” is mon­ey. There is a lot of mon­ey to be made in sur­veil­lance technology.

Call to action: call your rep­re­sen­ta­tives out on the NSA Sur­veil­lance issues. Impress upon them on how impor­tant the issue is to you. It is essen­tial­ly a vir­tu­al “stop and frisk” pol­i­cy that vio­lates your rights. Use tools to pro­tect your own pri­va­cy from sur­veil­lance. There are many options, but to get start­ed, you can check out “Reset the Net” Pri­va­cy Pack.

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