Inmates should never be released from prison directly from solitary confinement, said Charles Samuels, head of the Bureau of Prisons, during a Senate hearing Feb. 25. "I do not believe that it is appropriate," he said, as solitary confinement is used for prisoners who are too dangerous to interact with corrections officers and their fellow inmates.
Consumers would have access to the private information that data brokers collect about them under a bill that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) introduced Feb. 12. Data brokers, which assemble information about individuals and sell it to marketers, would have to maintain a public website that explains to consumers how to review their information and how they can prevent brokers from selling it.
Reports that the National Security Agency stores records of less than a third of telephone calls passing through U.S. carrier switches undermines its stated rationale for the bulk telephone metadata program, charged Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ore.) during a congressional hearing.
Technology companies, consumer groups and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration have begun a process to develop privacy standards for facial recognition technology. At a Feb. 6 meeting, Lawrence Strickling, assistant commerce secretary for communications and information, said that facial recognition technology raises "novel privacy questions."
Whether or not the intelligence community's bulk storage of telephony metadata has actually prevented a terrorist attack shouldn't be the only metric by which the program's efficacy should be measured, said Attorney General Eric Holder.
Members of a presidential panel that recommended stricter limits on National Security Agency mass surveillance activities echoed critics of the mass telephony metadata program by also stating that the effort has yet to prevent a single terrorist attack--but unlike many civil libertarian critics, said they still support the program's continuance in modified form.
The legal justification for intelligence community storage of bulk telephone metadata rests heavily on a 1979 court case, a Justice Department official acknowledged to a Senate panel Wednesday--a case that one Supreme Court justice has said may require revisiting in light of technological developments.
The government shutdown has resulted in furloughs for roughly 70 percent of the intelligence community's civilian workforce, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said. "The damage will be insidious. Each day that goes by, the jeopardy increases," Clapper told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Oct. 2.
The National Security Agency tested in 2010 and in 2011 the possibility of collecting cell phone location information, NSA head Gen. Keith Alexander acknowledged publicly during an Oct. 2 Senate hearing. Reading from a prepared statement during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Alexander said the NSA "received samples in order to test the ability of its systems to handle the data format."
Bulk collection of telephone records by the intelligence community wasn't intended by Congress, said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), adding that he has introduced a bipartisan bill that would end the practice. He said his bill would permit U.S. intelligence to continue collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act (codified at 50 USC § 1861), the law cited by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court as authority for storage by the NSA of metadata associated with telephone calls.