Category Archives: Speech/Expression

Cross-Post: Metadata Surveillance, Secrecy, and Political Liberty (Part Two)

(Image: NSA slide leaked by Edward Snowden describing the PRISM surveillance program)
(Image: NSA slide leaked by Edward Snowden describing the PRISM surveillance program)

My second post in a two-part series on metadata surveillance and liberty has been posted to the Digital Media Law Project’s blog (DMLP Blog).

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a widely ratified international human rights treaty, includes provisions that relate to liberal and republican conceptions of freedom that are relevant to current discussions about mass government surveillance and communications intelligence gathering. Article 17 of the ICCPR states that, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.”  Article 18 guarantees the freedoms of thought, conscience, and religion, and Article 19 guarantees the “right to hold opinions without interference” and the “right to freedom of expression.”  The European Convention on Human Rights, an important regional – rather than truly international – treaty, also provides similar protections, as do the constitutions and charters of many other democratic countries. The relevance of these treaties and philosophical accounts of freedom are tied directly to all three of the questions posed in my first post in this series but, I think, they are most interesting when applied to the third question: what transparency and oversight mechanisms ought to govern the collection of communications information by governmental intelligence agencies?

… [continue reading at the DMLP blog]

Cross-Post: Metadata Surveillance, Secrecy, and Political Liberty (Part One)

I have just written a new post for the Digital Media Law Project’s blog about some of the implications of government metadata surveillance.  For the full post, which was posted today, go to the DMLP Blog.

As much of the world is now undoubtedly aware, the National Security Administration (NSA), and many other signals intelligence agencies around the world, have been conducting sophisticated electronic surveillance for quite some time. Many might have expected that such extensive surveillance was occurring, both domestically and globally, prior to Edward Snowden’s release of classified information in June 2013.  Indeed, we’ve known about the existence of government driven metadata surveillance and international intelligence cooperation and data-sharing for years.  The UKUSA Agreement, which links intelligence agencies in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, was declassified by the NSA in 2011, but its existence was reported much earlier.  

What we haven’t known, perhaps, are some of the specifics… [continue reading at the DMLP blog]