By Danielle Kerem
In a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Restore the Fourth and a coalition of civil society organizations have called on the government to clarify the legal basis for a classified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court order that allegedly compelled Yahoo to scan hundreds of millions of user email accounts for a digital signature associated with a foreign power.
According to the initial Reuters report, Yahoo “secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials.” According to some surveillance experts, Yahoo’s program may be unprecedented — representing the “first known case of a US internet company agreeing to a spy agency’s demand by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time.” In response to these disturbing revelations, Restore the Fourth has demanded the following from the Director of National Intelligence:
- Honor the pledge your office made to “provide timely transparency on matters of public interest” by disclosing publicly the interpretation of law and of the Fourth Amendment that was relied upon to justify this surveillance;
- Release as quickly as possible the FISA Court opinion and order that compelled the surveillance to occur, as is required in the USA FREEDOM Act and as is consistent with the ODNI Principles of Intelligence Transparency Implementation Plan;
- Disclose whether the reported practice involved the scanning of email content;
- Disclose the types of selectors that the government believes are permissible under the authority it used;
- Provide any legal interpretations of FISA that reflect the government’s view of the scope of technical assistance it can compel providers to afford it;
- Indicate the total number of times such an order has been issued to a provider compelling a scan of all incoming email (or a search of comparable scope), as well as the year in which such a surveillance order was first issued.
The news of Yahoo’s bulk scan of customer emails is only the latest example of Silicon Valley’s troublesome enabling of the American intelligence community’s surveillance and collection methods – revealing the duplicity of Yahoo’s “Users First” approach and provoking serious questions regarding the sincerity of providers’ commitment to protecting digital security and client data.
By Ed Quiggle, Jr.
On Tuesday, November 8th the 2016 General Election will be held, and all 18 Pennsylvania seats in the US House of Representatives will be up for election, as well as one of Pennsylvania’s two seats in the US Senate (Senator Pat Toomey’s seat). Restore the Fourth has created a website called DecideTheFuture.org to rate our politicians’ records on important internet freedom and privacy legislation.
While most of Pennsylvania’s delegation to Congress has leaned towards restricting internet freedom, eroding the 4th amendment and privacy protections, and increasing illegal global mass surveillance, there are some who are on what we are calling “Team Internet,” fighting to protect internet freedom and your privacy rights. The members of Pennsylvania’s delegation to Congress who are part of Team Internet are Rep. Scott Perry (R-4th), Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-2nd), Matthew Cartwright (D-17th), Rep. Mike Doyle (D-14th), and Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-8th). All received a score of A+ on DecideTheFuture’s scorecard, and Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-12th) scored a B-.
Meanwhile, both of Pennsylvania’s US Senators have a horrible record when it comes to opposing mass surveillance and defending internet freedom, Democratic Senator Bob Casey got a D+, and Republican Senator Pat Toomey, who is facing re-election this year, scored an F. These Senators join the rest of Pennsylvania’s delegation to Congress who are on what we refer to as “Team NSA.” Rep. Lou Barletta (R-11th), Rep. Tom Marino (R-10th), Rep. Charles Dent (R-15th), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-3rd), Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-7th), Rep. Tim Murphy (R-18th), and Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-16th) all received an F. They are joined by Rep. Ryan Costello (R-6th), Rep, Bill Shuster (R-9th) who both received a grade of D, and Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-13th), and Rep. Bob Brady (D-1st) who both received a grade of D+. Rep. Glenn Thompson’s (R-5th) record is unclear.
Of particular importance to those of us in the Susquehanna Valley are the races for the 10th District and the 11th District. In the 11th District, incumbent Republican, and Team NSA member, Rep. Lou Barletta faces Democratic candidate Mike Marsicano. Marsicano said that, “With respect to NSA policy as it applies to the 4th Amendment, [I’m] against any attempt to censor mass phone or Internet traffic. I oppose any attempt to weaken the encryption or [to create] backdoor standards of our tech companies,” when asked for his position on NSA mass surveillance and attempts by Congress to weaken encryption standards and to force companies to create backdoors in their software.
In the 10th District, Team NSA member, incumbent Republican Rep. Tom Marino faces Democratic challenger Mike Molosevich. At the time of publication, we do not have any information on Molosevich’s position on privacy and internet freedom issues, but should we obtain this information, this article will be updated to include his positions.
There are only three congressional races in Pennsylvania where there will be no incumbent running for re-election. In the 8th District, one Team Internet member, Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick, who scored an A+ on DecideTheFuture’s scorecard, is not seeking re-election. Rep. Fitzpatrick’s brother, Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent, is seeking the seat as the Republican candidate, and faces Democratic candidate, and current PA State Representative, Steve Santarsiero. Brian Fitzpatrick’s campaign web site does not include his positions on privacy rights and internet freedom, and likewise, Santasiero’s campaign web site does not include his positions on privacy rights and internet freedom. As a State Representative, Santasiero is not a co-sponsor of HB 2046 or HB 409. HB 2046 is a bill that would require law enforcement agencies to get warrants before using stingrays, dirtboxes, and other cell site simulators. HB 409 is a bill that requires law enforcement agencies to request and receive authorization from a Superior Court judge before being able to use a drone.
In the 2nd District, a Team Internet member who received an A+, Rep. Chaka Fattah, lost in the Democratic primaries in April to State Representative Dwight Evans. Evans faces Republican candidate James Jones for Fattah’s seat, in the General Election. As a State Representative, Evans did not support HB 2046 or HB 409. Neither Evans nor Jones list their positions on privacy rights and internet freedom on their respective campaign web sites.
In the 16th District, one Team NSA member, Rep. Joe Pitts, will not be seeking re-election, and those running to replace Rep. Pitts include Libertarian candidate Shawn Patrick House, Republican candidate, and current PA State Senator, Lloyd Smucker, and Democratic candidate Christina Hartman. Libertarian candidate Shawn Patrick House said, “My campaign is rooted in using the US Constitution to bind once again an overreaching Federal bureaucracy that has continued to spy and collect personal information from honest law abiding Citizens in violation of our 4th Amendment rights to be secure in our homes, persons and property. I oppose stop & frisk, would work to exonerate & protect whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and others. Repeal the PATRIOT Act, NDAA, and shut down the TSA,” when asked for his position on privacy rights and internet freedom. Republican candidate, State Sen. Lloyd Smucker, does not address privacy and internet freedom issues on his web site and also was not a co-sponsor of State Sen. Mike Folmer’s 2 year State and Local Government Drone Moratorium bill. Democratic candidate Christina Hartman also did not include her position on privacy rights and internet freedom.
Included below is a link to find out who the candidates are that are running in your area. There are so many running that I did not have time to contact every candidate running and ask their campaign where the candidate stands on internet freedom, mass surveillance, the 4th amendment, and privacy rights, but I urge you to do that for the candidates running in your district.
To find out which congressional district you live in using your zip code, go to: http://www.house.gov/htbin/findrep
For more information on the races and the candidates running, go to: https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_House_of_Representatives_elections_in_Pennsylvania,_2016
For more information on how the candidates were scored and their votes on key internet freedom and privacy legislation, go to: https://www.decidethefuture.org/
Yahoo compromised the security and privacy of hundreds of millions of users and all the people they communicate with by installing a secret software program that searched all incoming emails at the request of US intelligence officials.
Sign the pledge to dump Yahoo now and learn how you can send a clear message to email providers that this kind of secret surveillance won’t go unanswered.