We’ve published two of my pieces at EFF so far this month, one addressing executive secrecy and denial at the federal level among national security officials and the Obama administration, and another concerning executive secrecy at the county level.
The first, White House Executive Order on Privacy Falls Short, observed that:
If the Obama administration wants to support privacy, it can start by finally offering straight answers to Congress on surveillance and intelligence practices that offend privacy. Instead, Congress has legislated surveillance policy in the dark while enduring a long series of executive misrepresentations.
Last week, mere days after an independent panel (notably including current U.S. intelligence officials) refuted recent FBI claims about encryption tools, Congress began examining surveillance powers set to expire next year in a closed hearing, enabling a familiar pattern of executive obfuscation and congressional confusion.
As we wrote over two years ago, “It’s time for Congress to reassert its oversight role and begin a full-scale investigation into the [government’s] surveillance and analytic activities….Congress cannot rely solely on mandating more reports from [intelligence agencies] as a solution.”
The second piece, Santa Clara County Weighs Surveillance Reforms to Enhance Transparency and Oversight, presents my comments at a meeting of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. The Board considered a groundbreaking proposal to increase transparency over the procurement and deployment of electronic surveillance technology by local law enforcement agencies such as the county sherrif, and my comments expressed support for the proposal and a few suggestions to help strengthen it: