Senate Abdicates Leadership on FISA, Opening the Door to Targeting Americans with Abusive Surveillance Tactics

The Senate failed to protect the American people from a bill that poses an enormous risk to accountability, civil liberties and privacy rights. This is a bad gamble that was sold as making us safe, when it has the potential downside of making us very sorry. We have already seen disturbing glimpses of FISA 702 abuses, with warrantless surveillance that has upended the lives of Americans.

OTG Opposes Effort to Reauthorize and Expand Surveillance Law that Weakens Fourth Amendment Protections

FISA 702 Reauthorization without Reforms is a Grave Threat to the Civil Liberties of All Americans

WASHINGTON – Open the Government strenuously opposes straight reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and views it as a direct assault on Americans’ Fourth Amendment protections and privacy rights. Worse, reauthorization without reform would enshrine and could expand dangerous spy programs that threaten to undermine constitutional protections.

OTG Condemns EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for Undermining Open Government and Keeping his Work Shielded from Public View

WASHINGTON -- Open the Government assailed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt today for displaying a pervasive pattern of secrecy that is undermining rules that ensure good government. Pruitt’s penchant for privacy, at the expense of transparency and accountability, are deeply troubling, and OTG calls on him to provide greater public access to his agency’s work in 2018. “It seems like Scott Pruitt has spent more time protecting secrets than the environment,” said Open the Government’s Executive Director Lisa Rosenberg. “Pruitt is toxic to transparency and the Poster Boy for secretive government. We urge the EPA administrator to change course in 2018, and begin to champion openness and accountability, because he is supposed to answer to the people, not hide from them.”

OTG Supports Bills in Congress to Protect Special Counsels from Politically Motivated Firing

Open the Government joined a coalition of groups in a letter today calling on Congress to pass the Special Counsel Integrity Act (H.R. 3771 and S. 1741). The importance of passing these bills was heightened after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation came under attack by those who wish to undermine the investigation for partisan purposes. “We need strong laws to protect Special Counsels to ensure the process is not corrupted by political calculations,” said Open the Government’s Executive Director Lisa Rosenberg. “The orchestrated attacks against Robert Mueller vividly show the need to strengthen the shield protecting Special Counsels, so they can serve the American people’s right to know about their government.”

House Surveillance Authorization Bill is Fake Reform that Threatens the Privacy of All Americans

WASHINGTON – Open the Government expressed its staunch opposition today to H.R. 4478, a reauthorization bill that would codify and expand sweeping surveillance programs that threaten the civil liberties and privacy rights of Americans, while doing little to enhance national security. “This is fake reform that is shamelessly being hustled to the House floor with little debate, so Americans won’t realize what is at stake,” said Open the Government Executive Director Lisa Rosenberg. “Instead of ensuring that surveillance is used to combat terrorist threats, the bill could expand domestic spy programs that sweep up American’s communications unconstitutionally, and secretly use this information against them.”

It Takes a Global Village to Fight Efforts to Subvert Open Government Policies

As we have seen in the United States, political transitions can be a precarious time for government openness and accountability. There are myriad ways that governments backslide, ranging from abandoning international agreements and multi-stakeholder initiatives, to threatening the independence of courts and legislative bodies, to direct attacks against journalists, civil society and political opponents.

Coalition Expresses Opposition to Bill that would Drastically Expand Authority of Department of Homeland Security

Open the Government led a coalition of government accountability groups in a statement expressing opposition to the SECURE ACT of 2017. The groups were concerned that the bill, if passed in its current form, would severely undermine oversight of the Department of Homeland Security by allowing the DHS Secretary to waive any legal requirement deemed necessary to facilitate border security programs. “This bill gives the Department of Homeland Security enormous power to do as it pleases, at the expense of openness and transparency,” said Open the Government’s Executive Director Lisa Rosenberg.

Advocates look to deepen FOIA collaboration to combat surveillance secrecy

The secrecy surrounding government surveillance has been a long-standing challenge for those working to defend against threats to Americans’ privacy, civil liberties and civil rights. Under the Trump Administration, advocates working on these issues have identified a growing need for greater transparency and accountability relating to government surveillance practices. There is a strong need to know, for example, how intelligence agencies are sharing information with the FBI and domestic law enforcement agencies, and the impact this has on the criminal justice system.