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CRS: Reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act

Author: Edward C Liu

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) provides a statutory framework by which government agencies may, when gathering foreign intelligence information, obtain authorization to conduct wiretapping or physical searches, utilize pen registers and trap and trace devices, or access specified business records and other tangible things.

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Senator Dodd's Speech on FISA

Senator Christopher Dodd gave this speech on the Senate floor on December 17, 2007, during a hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. He argues that companies have violated their customers' privacy rights in handing over information to the government without warrants and that they should not be granted immunity.

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CRS: Government Access to Phone Calling Activity and

Authors: Elizabeth B. Bazan, Gina Marie Stevens, and Brian T. Yeh

This CRS report focuses on US Government attempts to collect and analyze information on telephone calling patterns within the United States. The report summarizes statutory authorities regarding access by the Government, for either foreign intelligence or law enforcement purposes, to information related to telephone calling patterns or practices, and discusses statutory prohibitions against accessing or disclosing such information, along with relevant exceptions to those prohibitions.

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CRS: Data Security: Protecting the Privacy of Phone Records

Authors: Gina Marie Stevens and Tara Alexandra Rainson

This CRS report considers the issue of the privacy of cellular telephone records. It discusses recent legislative and regulatory efforts to protect the privacy of customer telephone records, and efforts to prevent the unauthorized use, disclosure, or sale of such records by data brokers. In addition, it provides a brief overview of the confidentiality protections for customer information established by the Communications Act of 1934.

See more in United States; Telecommunications; Privacy

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CRS: Data Mining and Homeland Security: An Overview

Author: Jeffrey W. Seifert

This report considers data mining in the context of homeland security. Data mining can be a potential means to identify terrorist activities, such as money transfers and communications, and to identify and track individual terrorists themselves, such as through travel and immigration records. It examines the degree to which government agencies should use and mix commercial data with government data, whether data sources are being used for purposes other than those for which they were originally designed, and possible application of the Privacy Act to these initiatives. It is anticipated that congressional oversight of data mining projects will grow as data mining efforts continue to evolve.

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ACLU v. National Security Agency

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought this lawsuit against the National Security Agency "for violating the U.S. Constitution. The illegal NSA spying program authorized by President Bush just after September 11, 2001, allows the NSA to intercept vast quantities of the international telephone and Internet communications of innocent Americans without court approval."

See more in 9/11 Impact; Privacy; United States

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USA Patriot Act: Background and Comparison

Author: Charles Doyle

The House and Senate have each passed USA Patriot Reauthorization Acts, HR 3199 and S 3189. Both make permanent most of the expiring USA Patriot Act sections, occasionally in modified form. After amending two of the more controversial expiring sections, 206 and 215, they postpone their expiration date, S 1389 until December 31, 2009; HR 3199 until December 31, 2015. Both address questions raised as to the constitutionality of various "national security letter" (NSL) statues by providing for review, enforcement and exceptions to the attendant confidentiality requirements in more explicit terms.

See more in Defense Strategy; United States; Privacy