DHS Privacy Office Releases 2016 Report, Secret Profiling on the Rise

3 02 2018

The Department of Homeland Security has released the 2016 Annual Data Mining Report. The report describes several of the agency’s profiling systems that assign secret “risk assessments” to U.S. citizens. According to the DHS report, the Analytical Framework for Intelligence is accessible to several agency components, including the Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Coast Guard, and the Transportation Security Administration. Through a Freedom of information Act lawsuit, EPIC previously obtained important documents about the secretive scoring program. EPIC is now appealing EPIC v. DHS to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to compel the release of additional documents.

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Government Argues for PRISM Reauthorization in New Report

3 02 2018

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released a report on the controversial Section 702 “PRISM” program, which is set to expire on December 31, 2017. The report argues for renewal, but significant questions remain about the PRISM program. Despite repeated requests from Congress, the ODNI has refused to reveal the number of U.S. persons who are swept up in PRISM surveillance every year. EPIC sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee urging public reporting of the Government’s surveillance activities. EPIC also warned that the Section 702 legal controversy could block international data transfers.

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EPIC Challenges Facebook Privacy Settlement

3 02 2018

EPIC has filed an amicus brief with a federal appeals court urging the court to reject a proposed class action settlement over Facebook’s practice of scanning private messages. EPIC challenged the settlement because it did not require Facebook to stop scanning private messages. In fact, the company can continue scanning messages by simply burying a notice on its website. Also, there was no compensation to Internet users for the prior violation of federal and state laws. EPIC is dedicated to class action fairness in privacy cases and has objected to many similar settlements that failed to provide actual benefits to Internet users. EPIC recently opposed a settlement with Google that allows the company to continue tracking web users. EPIC also opposed a settlement with Facebook in 2014 that allowed the company to continue an unlawful practice.

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US Courts Release Revised Report on FISA

1 02 2018

New Report on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Issued

Report of the Director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts on Activities of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has issued the 2016 report on activities of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The 2016 FISA report reveals that there were 1,752 FISA applications in 2016, of which 1,378 were granted, 339 were modified, 26 were denied in part, and 9 were denied in full. Scrutiny of FISA applications increased substantially in 2016. The FISA court denied more applications in 2016 than it had during the previous 36 years. In testimony before Congress in 2012, EPIC urged increased public reporting of the use of FISA authority to prevent abuse. Several of EPIC’s recommendations are reflected in the revised reporting requirements, following passage of the USA FREEDOM Act in June 2015.

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In EPIC Lawsuit, FAA Concedes Drone Privacy Risks

1 02 2018

The Federal Aviation Administration has filed a brief in response to EPIC’s lawsuit, EPIC v. FAA, concerning the FAA’s failure to establish privacy rules for commercial drones. EPIC sued the FAA after Congress required a “comprehensive plan” for drone deployment in the United States and the FAA denied EPIC’s petition calling for privacy safeguards. In the opposition brief, the FAA acknowledged “that cameras and other sensors attached to [drones] may pose a risk to privacy interests.” The FAA claims that the agency is not ignoring drone privacy risks, but documents from a previous Freedom of Information Act request by EPIC showed the agency also failed to complete a drone privacy report required by Congress.

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