Last night, the Senate advanced the cause of protecting Americans’ privacy and civil liberties by unanimously confirming four of the President’s five nominees to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB): Rachel Brand, Elisabeth Cook, Jim Dempsey, and Judge Patricia Wald.
While the Senate has yet to vote on the President’s highly qualified nominee David Medine to serve as the Board’s chair, yesterday’s confirmations give the Board a quorum and will allow it to begin performing its important work.
The PCLOB is an important guardian of Americans’ privacy rights and civil liberties and a key component of our national security strategy. As an independent voice for privacy and civil liberties, it will oversee executive branch activities with civil liberties implications, including intelligence and law enforcement practices. It will also offer guidance to the President and Federal agencies by ensuring that laws, regulations, and policies relating to counterterrorism are implemented in a way that appropriately considers the basic constitutional protections afforded to all Americans, which make up the cornerstones of our democracy. Now more than ever, the Board’s insights are keenly needed and will complement our ongoing efforts to expand privacy on the Internet and enhance our cybersecurity.
We can protect our national security while respecting the fundamental rights of all citizens, and a fully reconstituted PCLOB can help us accomplish both of these critical goals.
Michael Daniel is White House Cyber Security Coordinator, Danny Weitzner is Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy in the White House Office of Science & Technology Policyand Quentin Palfrey is Senior Advisor for Jobs & Competitiveness in the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy.