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US Patriot Act’s bulk collection provision expires

Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which authorises bulk collection of phone records, has expired as of 1 June 2015, halting for the time being one of the government’s major tools for mass surveillance.

As EFF notes,

Section 215 now—at least temporarily—reverts to its pre-Patriot Act form, which doesn’t permit any collection of financial or communications records, and requires the Government to provide “specific and articulable facts” supporting a reason to believe that the target is an agent of a foreign power.

Last month, a a three-judge panel in New York ruled that Section 215 does not provide the authority for the bulk collection of domestic phone records.

Journalists, activists and even some politicians widely recognise that Section 215 only became controversial, and therefore subject to reform and expiration, thanks to Edward Snowden’s disclosures of NSA records, generating global debate on the government’s power and how to curb it.

Despite the temporary lapse, the US Senate plans to move forward with a vote this week on the USA Freedom Act, which would move collected phone metadata from government control to that of telecoms.

Edward Snowden speaks to the Council of Europe on improving the protection of whistleblowers

Tuesday 24 June saw Edward Snowden’s second appearance before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. In April, he spoke to the assembly of Parliamentarians from 47 countries about mass surveillance. The topic of yesterdays’s session was improving protection of whistleblowers; reports on both subjects are being prepared for consideration by the Assembly before the end of the year.

Edward Snowden at the Council of Europe

Video and audio recordings of the session have been made available.

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Edward Snowden delivers testimony to the European Parliament

In January 2014, the Civil Liberties (LIBE) Committee of the European Parliament voted to invite Edward Snowden to testify to its long running inquiry on electronic mass surveillance. Snowden’s testimony has now been published. Unlike Snowden’s previous brief statement to the inquiry, this new evidence includes answers to specific questions posed by members of the LIBE Committee.

In his evidence, Snowden reiterates that he is limiting his comments to topics that have already been reported on. He also repeats hs “willingness to provide testimony to the United States Congress, should they decide to consider the issue of unconstitutional mass surveillance.”

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Snowden statement on his election as rector of Glasgow University

Originally published 18/3/14 in the Guardian

I am humbled by and grateful to the students of Glasgow University for this historic statement in defence of our shared values.

In a world where so many of our developing thoughts and queries and plans must be entrusted to the open internet, mass surveillance is not simply a matter of privacy, but of academic freedom and human liberty.

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