In its 238-page report published on Thursday, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) provided the most robust and comprehensive argument against the government’s interpretation of its ability to collect bulk metadata under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
The report gives 12 concrete recommendations that Congress and the White House should take. Some of these overlap with what President Barack Obama has said he would like to implement, but many suggestions go even further.
For now, though, these proposals are just recommendations—they do nothing unless acted upon.
“The privacy board’s findings closely mirror many of the criticisms made by surveillance reform advocates.
The bulk collection program was built on a murky legal foundation that raises many constitutional questions and has been proven to be an ineffective tool for collecting unique intelligence information,” wrote Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in a statement on the report. “There have now been two in-depth studies of these programs by unimpeachable government entities that have come to the same conclusion: the bulk collection program should be effectively ended.
As the president announced last week, the administration and the Congress will decide the fate of this problematic program in the coming weeks, and it is my belief that reports such as those from the PCLOB and the President’s Review Group should play a major role in any reform effort.”