All Surveillance stories

Jan 24, 2018 - Technology

A stranger might now be watching me

A CCTV camera on the new U.S. Embassy in London. Photo: Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images

"They Are Watching You — and Everything Else on the Planet Technology and our increasing demand for security have put us all under surveillance," by Robert Draper in National Geographic's February issue.

Why it matters: "Our smartphones, our Internet searches, and our social media accounts are giving away our secrets. Gus Hosein, the executive director of Privacy International, notes that 'if the police wanted to know what was in your head in the 1800s, they would have to torture you. Now they can just find it out from your devices.'"

Jan 18, 2018 - Technology

Senate sends spy program renewal to Trump’s desk

A bipartisan group of senators holds a news conference about their proposed reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in the Russell Senate Office Building. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Lawmakers in the Senate voted Thursday to approve a bill that extends a key part of a surveillance law for another six years. The House passed the bill last week.

Why it matters: Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is controversial because of concerns the digital surveillance it enables, of foreign nationals located abroad, could pick up communications from Americans without a warrant. The program expires tomorrow if President Trump doesn't sign the bill.

Jan 10, 2018 - Technology

House preps for big surveillance vote

The headquarters of the National Security Agency. Photo: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

The House of Representatives is pushing forward with a plan re-authorize a major surveillance law on Thursday as its expiration date approaches.

Why it matters: The Section 702 surveillance law is used to justify the digital surveillance of foreign nationals located abroad, but privacy advocates say it also picks up communications produced by American citizens without a warrant. And they say the House bill may result in the expansion of surveillance programs.

Surveillance and sex-trafficking on Congress' to-do list

People walk and jog across the East Plaza of the Capitol as Congress prepares to return from the Christmas recess on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. Photo: Bill Clark/ CQ/ Roll Call via Getty)

Lawmakers are coming back later this month. So are the big battles over tech policy.

The most urgent: The Section 702 surveillance law — used by the intelligence community to justify warrantless surveillance of electronic communications of foreign nationals located abroad — expires in mid-January, thanks to a short-term extension Congress passed before leaving for the holidays.

Dec 22, 2017 - Technology

Funding bill extends surveillance powers through January

Intelligence officials urgred lawmakers earlier this year to reauthorize the surveillance law. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Included in the short-term government funding measure that lawmakers passed on Thursday is an extension of a major surveillance law until mid-January.

Why it matters: The fight over the law — which is used to justify the digital surveillance of foreign nationals located abroad but activists says picks of Americans' communications — will be back very, very soon.

Go deeper: Read our primer on the law.

Dec 20, 2017 - Technology

A look inside the testing ground for China’s surveillance state

Paramilitary policemen in an armored vehicle are on duty last month at the Hotan airport in western China's Xinjiang region. Photo: Ng Han Guan / AP

"China's efforts to snuff out a violent separatist movement by some members of the predominantly Muslim Uighur ethnic group have turned the autonomous region of Xinjiang ... into a laboratory for high-tech social controls that civil-liberties activists say the government wants to roll out across the country," The Wall Street Journal's Josh Chin and Clément Bürge write.

Why it matters: Zhu Shengwu, a Chinese human-rights lawyer who has worked on surveillance cases: "They constantly take lessons from the high-pressure rule they apply in Xinjiang and implement them in the east ... What happens in Xinjiang has bearing on the fate of all Chinese people."

Dec 12, 2017 - Technology
Facts Matter

Congress under pressure to reauthorize surveillance law

The headquarters of the National Security Agency. Photo: Patrick Semansky / AP

Congress is under the gun to reauthorize a major surveillance law in a debate that has been overshadowed by other major policy fights, like net neutrality and the investigation into online Russian election meddling.

Why it matters: The law — known as Section 702 — expires at the end of the year. Intelligence agencies say it would be ultimately catastrophic if it isn't reauthorized. Privacy-minded lawmakers and advocates, however, say that if it is reauthorized without reforms it will perpetuate a sprawling surveillance system that ensnares Americans' information without a warrant.

House panel advances bill on key surveillance measure

Rep. Devin Nunes chairs the House's intelligence committee. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The House Intelligence Committee approved a bill Friday along party lines that would reauthorize a central surveillance law, the Washington Post reports. It does change the law — known as Section 702 — but doesn't satisfy surveillance reform advocates, including in the tech industry.

The law is used to authorize the surveillance of electronic communications by foreign nationals abroad, but advocates worry about the programs picking up communications involving Americans as well.

Why it matters: If lawmakers don't address it, the law will expire at the end of the year.

Oct 24, 2017 - Technology

Senators clear bill to re-up surveillance program

The leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The Senate Intelligence Committee approved a bill during a closed 12-3 vote Tuesday that would reauthorize a key surveillance program.

Why it matters: The surveillance law, known as Section 702, expires at the end of the year. There's movement in the House to reform the law, which privacy advocates say can inadvertently pick up the communications of Americans. Meanwhile, some in the Senate have pushed to make the law permanent and some want more significant reforms.

Russia looms large over Senate surveillance hearing

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

The Senate Intelligence Committee holds a hearing Wednesday morning to discuss the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a key provision of the law that is used to justify the digital surveillance of foreign nationals located abroad.

Why it matters: The provision expires at the end of the year unless lawmakers vote to reauthorize it. Privacy advocates — and some tech companies — take issue with the way that surveillance under the statute can capture the data of American citizens. Some Republican senators, meanwhile, have introduced legislation to re-up the provision and make it permanent.