Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Key Government Privacy Watchdog Muzzled During Surveillance Debate; Slate, June 26, 2017

Andrea Peterson, Slate; Key Government Privacy Watchdog Muzzled During Surveillance Debate

"The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, or PCLOB, is a little-known agency that’s had an outsize influence in recent years on the debate over government spying. The board’s job is to make sure that when the executive branch takes action to defend the country, Americans’ privacy rights and civil liberties aren’t forgotten. To carry out that mission, the board has almost unparalleled access to classified information across the intelligence agencies. PCLOB uses that access to advise agencies on how to roll out surveillance programs while minimizing privacy and civil liberties violations, review programs already in operation, and raise the alarm when it uncovers problems.

But right now, despite the high stakes, the board is being held hostage by a personnel shortage...

The board is supposed to be led by a bipartisan group of five people: a full-time chair and four part-time members who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Due to a string of departures over the last year, it’s down to just one part-time member."

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