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On May 1, ART signed a coalition letter (issued by the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT)) to United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) urging the agencies to cease targeting activists, journalists, and lawyers based on their First Amendment-protected speech and associational activities near the Mexico–United States border. This surveillance violates the Privacy Act of 1974, which states that a government agency cannot create records of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents’ First Amendment activities when they are not pertinent to and within the scope of its authorized law enforcement activity. Both agencies responded with individual letters--DHS issued a standard reply, while CBP confirmed suspicion of activists as a means to justify increased surveillance, in its own letter.
Today, ART joined a coalition of over 100 organizations in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) urging it to cease any targeting of activists, journalists, and lawyers based on their First Amendment-protected speech and associational activities. The coalition urges DHS to address alarming reports of surveillance activity by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that jeopardizes First Amendment rights and access to legal counsel, and may violate the Privacy Act of 1974, which states that a government agency cannot create records of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents’ First Amendment activities when they are not pertinent to and within the scope of its authorized law enforcement activity.
ART has issued a statement opposing the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Request for Records Disposition Authority (DAA-0048-2015-0003) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) records appraisal, which identify for destruction (going back 50 years as well as date forward) records from every agency within the DOI, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and others. These records touch on a range of subjects including oil and gas leases, mining, dams, wells,timber sales, marine conservation, fishing, endangered species, non-endangered species, critical habitats, and land acquisition.
We urge NARA to gather public input, including the input of specialists in these fields, about the long-term importance of these records, and we ask them to consider other methods of retention, such as keeping the records in an electronic format.
In addition, we strongly recommend that NARA deny the proposed change of “disposition authority” from individual bureaus to the office of the Secretary of Interior, a cabinet-level political appointee, which could overly politicize records retention across the entire agency going forward.
Read the full statement here.
ART has issued a statement to the New York City (NYC) Charter Revision Commission affirming our hope that the 2019 Charter mandates the Commissioners and heads of the NYC Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) be trained archivists, librarians, and/or records managers, holding the degrees of MLIS and/or MA in Archives and Records Management. As archivists, librarians, records managers, and related information professionals, we are required to hold graduate-level degrees, and we strongly believe that the heads of DORIS need to have this level of education to be able to effectively carry out their duties. The Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner should also be professional archivists, librarians, or records managers holding the education and experience defined in the City Charter, and not political appointees. Read the full letter here.
Last October, ART wrote a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) opposing the destruction of 11 types of records relating to abuses of detained individuals in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, including documentation of deaths and sexual assaults.
The Library Journal mentioned these efforts in a recent article describing the overwhelming opposition to the proposed retention schedule, as well as NARA's plans to open a 15-day public comments period on the revised ICE retention schedule via the Federal Register.
ART has joined 24 other organizations in opposing the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) proposal to collect citizenship and country of birth information about state and local prisoners, a data collection project of dubious efficacy and accuracy.
Read the full letter here.
Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero, provided an update on the AOTUS Blog about the the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) work to review and revise Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) records retention schedules relating to deaths and sexual assaults of detainees in government custody.
Ferriero states that, "As part of the regular process of reviewing the submission from ICE, NARA received an unprecedented number of comments. Comments under review by NARA include three congressional letters with a total of 36 signatures (29 house members, 7 senators); a petition from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) with 23,758 comments, a petition from UltraViolet with 1,475 signatures; written comments from 187 individuals and six organizations; and phone calls from seven individuals."
ICE previously requested imminent destruction of records of deaths and sexual assaults of detainees, which the Roundtable publicly opposed in its ART Statement on ICE Retention Schedules.
On June 22, 2018, Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Daniel Coats, responded to the coalition letter ART signed on May 31, 2018, regarding ODNI failure to report information as required by the USA FREEDOM Act for it's call records program that replaced the bulk collection program outlawed by the same legislation. Read the response here.
ART has signed pair of letters spearheaded by the ACLU regarding ODNI failure to report information as required by the USA FREEDOM Act for it's call records program that replaced the bulk collection program outlawed by the same legislation (a bulk collection program developed to target immigrants). This letter highlights potential unlawful surveillance and collection of data of persons in the U.S., as well as failures of transparency on the part of the government in disclosing the extent of surveillance and data gathering mechanisms. Read the letter to the Director of the ODNI here, and the letter to the House Judiciary Committee here.
ART has also signed a letter issued by the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), highlighting the Department of State proposal to ask visa applicants to provide social media identifiers, telephone numbers, and email addresses used in the past five years, among other information. This is yet another form of data gathering by the US Government that will undermine civil liberties and free speech, and an issue which we've pushed back on previously, in our official statement on the DHS/ICE Visa Lifecycle Vetting initiative. Read the full letter here.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has abandoned the software component of its “Extreme Vetting Initiative,” also named the "Visa Lifecycle Vetting" initiative, which aimed to automatically mine Facebook, Twitter, and the broader Internet to determine whether visitors to the U.S. would "contribute to American society", further national interests, or intend to commit crimes or terrorist acts, language lifted directly from President Trump’s Muslim Ban of January 2017.
ICE has eliminated the machine-learning requirement from its vetting initiative, opting to hire a contractor that can provide human personnel to execute the job. While this represents a victory for government transparency and accountability activism, a vetting plan (with human personnel) is still moving froward, with a contract expected to cost more than $100 million, to be awarded by the end of the year.
Read the Washington Post article breaking the news, as well as the ART Advocacy Committee’s initial coalition letter with the Concerned Archivists Alliance (CAA) opposing the Extreme Vetting Initiative.