Must Read

CRS: Government Collection of Private Information: Background and Issues Related to the USA PATRIOT Act Reauthorization

Authors: Anna C Henning, Elizabeth B. Bazan, Charles Doyle, and Edward C Liu

This report discusses the history of constitutional interpretations and legislative responses relevant to the collection of private information for criminal investigation, foreign intelligence gathering, and national security purposes. Next, it summarizes the relevant statutory frameworks and changes made by the USA PATRIOT Act and subsequent measures

See more in United States; Intelligence; Privacy

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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.

See more in United States; Intelligence; Privacy

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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.

See more in United States; Privacy

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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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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

Other Report

Protecting Data Privacy With User-Friendly Software

Author: Sara "Scout" Sinclair Brody

Protecting the privacy of user data from unauthorized access is essential for business executives, policymakers, and users themselves. But strong privacy protection software is often difficult for nonexperts to use. In this Cyber Brief, Sara "Scout" Sinclair Brody explains how promoting and improving open-source software can go a long way toward strengthening privacy online.

See more in Global; Cybersecurity; Privacy