Published: November 2015

U.S. agencies fail to meet privacy requirements of E.O. 13107

Coalition: Access Now

Consumers’ privacy rights are violated by mass surveillance conducted by the United States and other governments. It’s hard to challenge these abuses because most federal agencies have failed to follow a law that is supposed to make it easier for all people to file complaints about human rights violations. Consumer Action joined the Access Now coalition of human rights, privacy, and consumer protection organizations in denouncing the data collection and privacy breaches of government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency.

In 1998, President Clinton issued Executive Order 13107. This order requires federal agencies to comply with the legal duties imposed on the United States by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty that recognizes the rights of privacy, freedom of thought, and freedom of expression. To ensure compliance with the ICCPR and other treaties, the executive order stipulates that the head of each executive agency “shall designate a single contact officer” to coordinate “complaints about violations of human rights obligations that fall within its area of responsibility.” Nearly 20 years after the executive order was signed, only one U.S. agency — the Department of  Homeland Security — has fulfilled this obligation. This means that when the United States government violates international human rights by conducting mass surveillance on innocent people around the world, those affected have no official way to object.

Previously, Access Now led nearly two dozen groups, including Consumer Action to call on the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency to designate a point of contact. More than seven months have passed without a single formal response from any of these six agencies. Today’s coalition letter, sent again to all six agencies, renews this request, specifically in light of the recent decision from the Court of Justice of the European Union striking down the E.U.-U.S. Safe Harbor framework. We also note that the need for a designate to process complaints about violations is even more important following the invalidation of the E.U.-U.S. Safe Harbor framework.

Other Organizations

Access Now | Advocacy for Principled Action in Government | American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee | American Library Association | Bill of Rights Defense Committee | Center for Democracy and Technology | Center for Digital Democracy | Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights | Constitutional Alliance | Consumer Action | Consumer Federation of America | Consumer Watchdog | Cyber Privacy Project | Defending Dissent Foundation | Electronic Frontier Foundation | Electronic Privacy Information Center | Fight for the Future | Government Accountability Project | The Identity Project (PapersPlease.org) | New America's Open Technology Institute | OpenTheGovernment.org | Patient Privacy Rights | Privacy Times | Restore the Fourth | TechFreedom

More Information

To read the coalition letters, please click here.

For more information, please visit Access Now's website.

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