On Christmas Eve, the US National Security Agency (NSA) declassified and released 12 years of reports outlining compliance violations that were submitted to the NSA Intelligence Oversight Committee. The reports, which are required by law, had previously been classified and were the subject of a legal battle between the ACLU and the government. Although heavily redacted, the reports the NSA released of are vital interest to the public because they reveal a pattern of significant privacy violations and in some cases serious abuses in granular detail.
An important report came out today from the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, the board that was appointed to be a privacy watchdog for the US government surveillance programs. The newly released report covers PRISM and other Section 702 surveillance programs conducted under the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The report is complex, and provides important benchmarking on how PRISM and “upstream” surveillance programs work. The report’s recommendations, however, are what have proven to be more controversial.
This request is for a copy of every annual report made by the Department of Justice under this provision of Executive Order 13181. We prefer to have the copies in a widely available electronic format, such as a PDF file or a Word document. Having an electronic format will facilitate the posting of the reports on the World Privacy Forum’s website at www.worldprivacyforum.org. We note this is our second request for this report. Our first request was made November 29, 2007. The DOJ responded to our 2007 FOIA by saying the annual report could not be located.
This section reviews several other privacy self-regulatory activities that share some characteristics with the industry self-regulatory programs discussed above, but these activities differ in various ways. The most noticeable differences are the role of the government in the programs. The Department of Commerce is involved in the Safe Harbor Framework, and the Federal Trade Commission is involved in the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
Online privacy and government web sites — The World Privacy Forum filed comments with the Office of Management and Budget regarding its proposal to begin to allow the use of tracking cookies on government web sites. The proposal was published in the Federal Register, and outlined a three-tiered plan for how web tracking technologies might be used. The Forum’s comments focused on methods of opt-out, data retention, secondary use, user authentication, new tracking technologies such as Flash cookies, and the need for new opt-out mechanisms. The Forum also urged the federal government to not allow third party tracking of consumers’ use of government web sites, and to guard against any discrimination against consumers who do not want to be tracked.