Independent Federal Privacy Board Concludes Bulk Data Collection Illegal

BY Heather Greenfield
January 23, 2014

Washington – An independent federal privacy watchdog group is issuing its 238-page report today, which finds the government’s program to collect bulk metadata is illegal and should end, according to various news reports. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board report comes less than a week after President Obama announced modest changes to the way the government collects and stores data on citizens and foreigners’ electronic communications, but he did not recommend an end to the program altogether.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has also called for an end to this program and was uncomfortable with the suggestion that the data could be housed with private companies instead of the government.

CCIA President & CEO Ed Black has testified several times before Senators about his concerns about government surveillance, and the following can be attributed to him:

“We are encouraged that this latest report will add to the growing debate after a federal judge and the president’s review group also expressed serious misgivings about bulk data collection and other surveillance practices. These valuable, independent reviews will help as Congress continues to consider how to reform NSA programs and procedures.

“While we appreciate the reassurances that this bulk data is rarely accessed, what many don’t fully understand is that’s not the only threat to citizens. The basic gathering of data and its inherent value is intrusive. It erodes our sense of privacy, creates information power and provides an enduring temptation to use or misuse it.  Having this accumulation of data sitting around makes it available for abuse – not just by the U.S. government, but by others as well.

“While the board may not have been unanimous in all of their findings, such as the legality of the bulk metadata program, they all agreed there have been no instances where this program has actually prevented a national security threat.”


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