Freedom on the Net

United States

United States

Freedom on the Net 2013

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Key Developments: May 2012 – April 2013

  • Leaked documents revealed widespread surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency (see Violations of User Rights).
  • The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a piece of proposed legislation that threatened to undermine user privacy. The bill was subsequently shelved by the Senate (see Violations of User Rights).
  • Aggressive prosecution of Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide before receiving a sentence, fueled calls to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) (see Violations of User Rights).

Editor's Note:

The following chapter covers developments in the United States until April 30, 2013. However, in June and July 2013, the British newspaper The Guardian and the American Washington Post reported a series of leaks from a former contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), which revealed that the extent of government surveillance of telephone records and internet activity is greater than had previously been acknowledged. Given that this surveillance has been ongoing for a number of years—including during the period covered by this report—Freedom House has decided to include it in this edition of Freedom on the Net  (see Violations of User Rights).

Introduction: 

Access to the internet in the United States remains relatively free compared with the rest of the world. Users face few restrictions on their ability to access and publish content online. The courts have consistently held that federal and state constitutional prohibitions against government regulation of speech apply to material published on the internet. The law also protects online service providers from liability for infractions committed by their users, a policy that fosters business models that permit open discourse and the free exchange of information.

Several recent developments, however, have placed the government and internet freedom advocates at odds over aspects of internet policy, especially with respect to online surveillance and privacy. In June and July 2013, a series of secret documents leaked to The Guardian and the Washington Post revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) is conducting widespread surveillance on phone records and internet activities of American citizens and people around the world. In addition, in April 2013 the House of Representatives voted in favor of the Cyber Information Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which is intended to increase information sharing between companies and the government for the purpose of cybersecurity. Critics argued that the House bill was overly broad and could threaten user privacy if it were to become law;[1] the bill was subsequently shelved by the Senate.[2]

Prosecutions under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) continued to raise concerns about the application of the law to prosecute crimes committed by online users, particularly in the case of Aaron Swartz, who was prosecuted under the CFAA for using the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s network to download nearly 5 million academic articles. This case reignited calls for amending the legislation, which critics argue is too broadly worded, particularly in regard to the meaning of the offense of accessing a computer “without authorization.” In recent years, the CFAA has been used to prosecute crimes that fall outside of traditional concepts of cybercrime.

Social networks and microblogging sites have been prominent targets for government demands to disclose data about users. The microblogging site Twitter received subpoenas requesting data identifying users, including individuals affiliated with the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks and the Occupy Wall Street movement. Twitter challenged a subpoena requesting records on an Occupy Wall Street protestor, but in September 2012 a court ruled that the company had to turn over the information, and Twitter complied.

Obstacles to Access: 

Access to the internet in the United States is largely unregulated. It is provided and controlled in practice by a small group of private cable television and telephone companies that own and manage the network infrastructure. This model has been questioned by observers who have warned that insufficient competition in the ISP market could lead to some increases in the cost of access, thus adversely affecting the economy and individuals’ participation in civic life, which increasingly occurs online.[3] Observers have cautioned that if “network neutrality” regulations (discussed in greater detail below) prove too weak or are rejected by the courts, the dominant companies may decide not to continue to carry internet traffic in a content-neutral fashion.

Although the United States is one of the most connected countries in the world, it has fallen behind several other developed countries in terms of internet speed, cost, and broadband availability.[4] Approximately 81 percent of all Americans had access to the internet in 2012,[5] but only 65 percent of adults used high-speed broadband connections as of December 2012.[6] While the broadband penetration rate is considered high by global standards, it puts the United States significantly behind countries such as Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, and South Korea. Lack of high-speed internet access is especially prevalent in rural areas, where low population densities make it difficult for private companies to justify large investments in network infrastructure. Wired broadband service is not yet available to 7 percent of U.S. residents, most of whom live in rural counties.[7] A June 2012 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) report indicated that 18 percent of rural residents in the United States lack access to fixed broadband. However, mobile broadband is becoming an option for an increasing number of people.[8]

Senior citizens, Spanish-speakers, adults with less than a high school education, and those living in households earning less than $30,000 annually are the groups least likely to use the internet, though internet penetration has been growing at significantly higher rates among minorities than it has within the general population. In a survey conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, when asked why they do not use the internet, many nonusers said they did not see the internet’s relevance in their lives. They also cited factors such as usability and price as key deterrents. Approximately one in five nonusers said they know enough about technology that they could use the internet on their own.[9]

Mobile devices have become ubiquitous in the United States, with 98 mobile phone subscriptions per 100 residents.[10] As of mid-2012, about 63 percent of adult mobile phone users reported accessing the internet on their phones. Young adults, minorities, those with less than a college education, and those with lower household income are the most likely to say that a phone is their primary source of internet access.[11] A growing number of people use their phones to check e-mail, visit social-networking sites such as Facebook, and engage in online commerce. This has prompted many companies to develop special applications and versions of their websites that are designed for mobile phone viewing.

No single agency governs the internet in the United States. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an independent agency of the executive branch, is charged with regulating radio and television broadcasting, all interstate communications, and all international telecommunications that originate or terminate in the United States. Although the FCC is not specifically tasked with regulating the internet or ISPs, it has claimed jurisdiction over some internet-related issues. Other government agencies, such as the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), also play advisory or executive roles with respect to telecommunications, economic, and technological policies and regulations. It is the role of the U.S. Congress to create laws that govern the internet and delegate regulatory authority. Government agencies such as the FCC and the NTIA must act within the bounds of congressional legislation.

Recognizing that internet penetration and connection speeds in the United States have been outpaced by those in several other developed countries, Congress devoted funding to improving the nation’s broadband infrastructure and instructed the FCC to create a National Broadband Plan that promotes broadband availability for all U.S. residents. After issuing a notice of inquiry in April 2009 and weighing input from a wide variety of business, government, and civil society organizations,[12] the FCC issued its National Broadband Plan in March 2010. First among the goals was to provide at least 100 million U.S. homes with “affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and actual upload speeds of at least 50 megabits per second.”[13] Three years after its implementation, the results of the National Broadband Plan are mixed. According to a 2013 report by the Congressional Research Office, the country is much closer to reaching its broadband availability goals than its broadband adoption goals. While it seems likely that 100 million U.S. homes will soon have access to the target download speeds, cost of service is still a major issue.[14]

Despite the economic recession, the United States is home to a thriving communications start-up community where innovators and entrepreneurs regularly offer new technological tools at no monetary cost to the public. Popular web applications such as Twitter, the video-sharing site YouTube, the social-networking site Facebook, and international blog-hosting services such as WordPress are all freely available.

Between 3,000 and 4,000 ISPs currently operate in the United States, although 15 of them control approximately 80 percent of the market, and four—AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, and Verizon—control approximately 50 percent and own the majority of network cables and other infrastructure.[15] Until 2005, U.S. telephone companies were required to grant “nondiscriminatory” access to their wire networks to other ISPs to ensure open retail-level competition and optimal service for consumers. However, in 2005, the FCC embraced an aggressive deregulation agenda and freed the network owners from any obligation to lease their lines to competing ISPs. The proponents of deregulation claimed that this step would provide more incentive for large cable and telephone companies to further develop and upgrade their networks, while opponents claimed that it would lead to higher prices, fewer options for consumers, and worse service.  Broadband speeds have increased, but a majority of Americans remain limited to three or fewer options when choosing a broadband provider offering at least 3 Mbps for downstream speeds and 768 Kbps for upstream speeds.[16]

Over the last decade, policymakers in the United States have engaged in deep debates over the concept of “network neutrality,” according to which network providers must treat all content, websites, and platforms equally when managing data traffic.[17] Supporters of the principle argue that without it, ISPs would be able to block certain content and applications, or give preferential treatment to some content providers for a fee, a practice that could place limitations on citizen access to information and online services.

Although concerns about net neutrality began emerging in the early 2000s, the issue did not gain widespread attention until 2007 when FCC investigators found that Comcast, a cable-television company and major ISP, had begun slowing down and blocking certain types of peer-to-peer file-sharing traffic.[18] After a long court battle on the issue, a federal appeals court sided with Comcast in April 2010 and overturned the FCC’s ruling against the company. The decision, which came shortly after the release of the National Broadband Plan, also found that the FCC did not have the authority to regulate ISPs under the legal framework the agency had cited, challenging its ability to protect consumers on the internet.[19]

In December 2010, the FCC issued a compromise ruling on net neutrality that instructs fixed-line service providers not to block access to, or unreasonably discriminate against, lawful websites, applications, devices, or services. The rules for wireless broadband providers are much more limited, however, restricting only some types of blocking and saying nothing about discrimination. Under separate FCC licensing rules covering the operation of a particular range of radio communication frequencies, some wireless carriers are barred from discriminating among devices and applications, but these rules are not universally applied.[20] In 2011, some advocates filed a complaint with the FCC alleging that Verizon had violated these licensing rules by demanding that certain applications (specifically, applications that enable a mobile device to create a wireless “hotspot,” essentially sharing its connection with other devices) be removed from Google’s application store. In 2012, Verizon settled this complaint with the FCC, agreeing that the company would not restrict the availability of such applications.[21]

Under the rules for fixed-line internet service, referred to sometimes as the “Open Internet Rules,” ISPs are allowed to offer tiered services at different prices.[22] Some civil society organizations, though they agreed that the FCC adopted the rules in a free, fair, and independent manner,[23] expressed disappointment that the Commission did not take a stronger stance on net neutrality that would have applied the Communications Act’s “common carrier” provisions. The FCC’s rules officially took effect in November 2011.

Verizon v. FCC, a case challenging these rules, is pending before the Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., the same appellate court that overturned the FCC’s ruling in the Comcast case.[24] The telecommunications company Verizon argues that the FCC lacks the statutory authority to adopt the Open Internet Rules. The company further argues that it has a First Amendment right to exercise “editorial discretion” over the content it transmits, a right it argues renders unconstitutional the FCC’s requirement that it not block or interfere with its customers’ access to lawful internet content. Civil society groups filed a series of “friend of the court” briefs countering Verizon’s claims, some of which focused specifically on critiquing the company’s First Amendment arguments.[25] The court of appeals has scheduled the oral argument in the case for September 2013.

Limits on Content: 

Access to information on the internet is generally free from government interference in the United States. There is no government-run filtering mechanism affecting content passing over the internet or mobile phone networks. Users with opposing viewpoints engage in vibrant online political discourse and face almost no legal or technical restrictions on their expressive activities online.

Although the government does not restrict any political or social content, legal rules that apply to other spheres of life have been extended to the internet. For example, concerns over copyright violations, child pornography, protection of minors from harmful or indecent content, harassing or defamatory comments, publication of confidential information, gambling, and financial crime have presented a strong impetus for aggressive legislative and executive action.

Advertisement, production, distribution, and possession of child pornography—on the internet and in all other media—is prohibited under federal law and can carry a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. According to the Child Protection and Obscenity Enforcement Act of 1988, all producers of sexually explicit material must keep records proving that their models and actors are over 18 years old. In addition to prosecuting individual offenders, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and other law enforcement agencies have asserted their authority to seize the domain name of a website allegedly hosting child abuse images after obtaining a court order.[26]

Congress has passed several laws designed to restrict adult pornography and shield children from harmful or indecent content, such as the Child Online Protection Act of 1998 (COPA), but they have been overturned by courts due to their ambiguity and potential infringements on the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects freedoms of speech and the press. One law currently in force is the Children’s Internet Protection Act of 2000 (CIPA), which requires public libraries that receive certain federal government subsidies to install filtering software that prevents users from accessing child pornography or visual depictions that are obscene or harmful to minors. Libraries that do not receive the specified subsidies from the federal government are not obliged to comply with CIPA, but following the economic downturn, more public libraries have begun to seek federal aid in order to mitigate budget shortfalls.[27] Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the law, adult users can request that the filtering be removed without having to provide a justification. However, not all libraries allow this option, arguing that the decisions about the use of filters should be left to the discretion of individual libraries.[28]

In addition to restricting access to universally illegal content such as child pornography, the government has in recent years started more aggressively pursuing alleged infringements of intellectual property rights on the internet. Since 2010, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Department of Homeland Security has engaged in several rounds of domain-name seizures, with targets including blogs and file-sharing sites that allegedly link to illegal copies of music and films and sites that sell counterfeit goods.[29] These seizures have been criticized as extreme and overly secretive; for example, ICE seized the domain name of a legitimate hip-hop music site in November of 2010 and refused to return it for an entire year. The decision to withhold the domain was based on sealed court proceedings to which the owners of the domain were not allowed access.[30] In August 2012, three members of Congress wrote a letter to the U.S. Attorney General raising concerns about whether ICE procedures give websites meaningful due process.[31] However, ICE continues to pursue the project, which is known as “Operation in Our Sights.” In January 2013, ICE launched a new “Operation in Our Sights” initiative called “Operation Red Zone,” seizing 313 websites allegedly selling counterfeit goods that violate National Football League (NFL) copyrights.[32]

In 2011, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), both of which sought to target websites outside of the United States that host material allegedly infringing on U.S. copyrights, were introduced with bipartisan support in the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively. These bills would have permitted the Attorney General, with little judicial review, to seek orders directing ISPs to block access to domain names of sites allegedly dedicated to infringing activity, even if sites also contained lawful content. 

The bills, if passed, would have suppressed legitimate, unquestionably legal speech and posed a threat to the infrastructure of the internet. In recognition of these concerns, technologists, digital rights advocates, companies such as Google and Mozilla, and the internet community at large voiced resounding opposition to the bills. Some estimates of user involvement in this effort include over 10 million signatures to petitions, four million e-mails to legislators, and 115,000 sites blacking out or going dim in protest.[33] In response to these efforts and internal concerns, members of Congress withdrew the bills from consideration. The bills remained shelved as of mid-2013.

The activities of WikiLeaks, which in 2010 published several tranches of U.S. government material that was leaked by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, triggered a serious debate about the use of the internet to publicize sensitive or classified government documents.[34] WikiLeaks faced the cut-off of service by non-government entities, including Amazon’s data storage service[35] and EveryDNS, Wikileaks’ domain name service provider.[36] While these and other companies that severed ties with WikiLeaks claimed to be acting independently and without government influence, their decisions came amid fierce public criticism of WikiLeaks by executive branch officials and prominent members of Congress.[37] Bradley Manning pleaded guilty to some charges, was convicted of others and received a lengthy sentence. A federal grand jury investigation of Wikileaks is ongoing, but as of mid-2013, the U.S. government had not filed charges against WikiLeaks or any of the press outlets that republished the documents.[38]

The legality of online gambling is another topic of debate in the United States. Online gambling is governed by a patchwork of laws that have continued to shift over the last year. Currently, 37 states allow betting on games that require some degree of skill, but under U.S. law, certain popular online card games like poker and blackjack are not generally included under the “games of skill” designation.[39] In 2011, the Justice Department delivered a legal opinion clarifying the scope of the Wire Act of 1961 and opening the door for states to legalize many additional forms of gambling, including online poker and other “games of chance.”[40] Following the opinion, Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware legalized online gambling within their borders. Other states are considering similar legislation.[41] The first legal online poker website opened for business in June 2013, although the site is technically only legal for residents of Nevada.[42]

The internet plays a significant role in civic activism in the United States, and the growth of the blogosphere and citizen journalism has changed the ways in which many people receive news. Blogs and electronic media outlets reporting from various points on the political spectrum now have greater readership than most printed periodicals. Nearly all nongovernmental organizations and causes have a presence on the internet and use it for advocacy and social mobilization. E-mail campaigns, online petitions, and YouTube videos have been instrumental in organizing protests, lobbying government bodies, and putting a spotlight on issues ranging from environmental degradation to hate crimes.[43]

Political activity is increasingly moving online. According to a survey by the Pew Center’s Internet and American Life Project, 66 percent of social media users have engaged in some form of political or civic activity using these tools. This represents nearly 40 percent of the adult American population. More than one third of social media users have used the tools to encourage others to vote.[44] In the 2012 presidential campaign, contributors increasingly turned to technology when donating money to candidates. Approximately half of the people who donated to a presidential candidate made at least one contribution online or via e-mail. One in ten donors made a contribution via text message or mobile phone app.[45] In addition, politicians at the local, state, and federal level increasingly use e-mail, mobile apps, and online content to garner support and keep their constituents engaged.

Violations of User Rights: 

The United States has a robust legal framework that supports free expression rights both online and offline, and the U.S. does not typically prosecute individuals for online speech. The broader picture of user rights in America, however, has become increasingly complex as a series of U.S. government practices, policies, and laws touch on, and in some cases appear to violate, the rights of individuals both inside the U.S. and abroad. Government access to phone and internet records is a major concern, especially following newly revealed information about NSA surveillance practices. Aggressive prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) has also been criticized. In addition, the privacy of NGOs, companies, and individual users is threatened by a growing number of cyberattacks initiated by both domestic and international actors. 

The U.S. Constitution includes strong protections for free speech and freedom of the press. In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court held that internet speech was entitled to the highest form of protection under the Constitution, and lower courts have consistently struck down attempts to regulate online content. Two federal laws also provide significant protections for online speech: Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934 (as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996) provides immunity for ISPs and online platforms such as YouTube and Facebook that carry content created by third parties. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 provides a safe harbor to intermediaries that take down allegedly infringing material after notice from the copyright owner. These statutes enable companies to develop internet applications and websites without fear that they will be held liable for content posted by users.[46]

The U.S. government generally does not prosecute individuals for posting information on the internet, with the notable exceptions of child pornography and content that infringes on copyright. As of mid-2013, the government had taken no decisive action against either WikiLeaks or site founder Julian Assange, but this may change in the wake of the Bradley Manning trial. Manning’s own statements or other testimony may help prosecutors establish whether WikiLeaks played a conspiratorial role in the unauthorized downloading of classified documents from U.S. military computers or in the subsequent transmission of the material to WikiLeaks.[47]

In 2012, federal authorities issued a subpoena to the microblogging service Twitter, requesting information from the Twitter accounts of Manning, Assange, and others associated with WikiLeaks. With the subpoena came a gag order compelling Twitter not to disclose this information to anyone, including the users in question. Twitter attorneys successfully challenged the gag order in court and were able to notify users before disclosing their information to government officials.[48] A similar case arose in May 2012 when New York City’s district attorney issued a subpoena to Twitter, requesting tweets and account information of an Occupy Wall Street protester. Twitter asked a state judge to throw out the request, arguing that the protester merited protection under the Fourth Amendment, given that prosecutors had failed to show probable cause necessary to obtain a warrant for the information.[49] Twitter’s efforts in court were unsuccessful, and in September 2012 the company complied with a court order to produce the user’s posts. The defendant pled guilty to disorderly conduct charges in late 2012.[50]

Aggressive prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) has fueled growing criticism of that law’s scope and application. Under CFAA, it is illegal to access a computer without authorization, but the law fails to define the term “without authorization,” leaving the provision open to interpretation in the courts.[51] In one prominent case, programmer and internet activist Aaron Swartz secretly used Massachusetts Institute of Technology servers to download millions of files from a service providing academic articles. Prosecutors sought harsh penalties for Swartz under CFAA, which could have resulted in up to 35 years imprisonment.[52] Swartz committed suicide in early 2013. Shortly after his death, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced “Aaron’s Law,” draft legislation that would prevent the government from using CFAA to prosecute terms of service violations and stop prosecutors from bringing multiple redundant charges for a single crime.[53]

In another case of prosecution under CFAA, online activist Andrew Auernheimer was convicted and sentenced to three and a half years in prison in March 2013. In 2010, Auernheimer found a security breach in AT&T’s website that allowed him to access thousands of customers’ e-mail addresses, which he claims he then turned over to a journalist at Gawker in order to expose the company’s security flaws.[54] Prosecutors used CFAA to convict Auernheimer of identity fraud and conspiracy to access a computer without authorization. In addition to the prison sentence, Auernheimer was ordered to pay over $73,000 in damages to AT&T.

In August 2011, public transit authorities in San Francisco suspended cell phone service in several underground stations of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in an effort to impede planned demonstrations regarding the fatal shooting of a man by BART police the month prior. Numerous digital rights advocates and First Amendment scholars called the decision a violation of BART passengers’ First Amendment rights and pointed to the international implications of BART’s actions.[55] Following the incident, various civil liberties groups filed an emergency petition with the FCC requesting that the agency declare the BART shutdown a violation of the Communications Act.[56] In early 2012, the FCC issued a call for public comment on the issue, but as of mid-2013 the agency had not yet taken further action on the subject.[57] In December 2011, BART adopted a policy outlining the circumstances under which it could shut down service; the policy did not require prior judicial approval but, had it been in place, it would not have allowed for the August 2011 shutdown.[58] In 2012, the California State Assembly and Senate approved a bill that would require a court order before allowing for cell network interruption. Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the bill in September 2012, citing concerns that requiring law enforcement to make certain decisions within six hours of interrupting service could divert attention away from resolving the emergency situation.[59]

Although some of the most popular social media platforms in the United States require users to register and create accounts using their real names through Terms of Service or other contracts,[60] there are no legal restrictions on user anonymity on the internet. Constitutional precedents protect the right to anonymous speech in many contexts. There are also state laws that stipulate journalists’ right to withhold the identities of anonymous sources, and at least one such law has been found to apply to bloggers.[61] In April 2011, the Obama administration launched the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC). The stated goal of the effort is to ensure the creation of an “identity ecosystem” in which internet users and organizations can more completely trust one another’s identities and systems when carrying out online transactions requiring assurance of identity.[62] The plan specifically endorses anonymous online speech.[63]

Laws that protect internet communications from government monitoring are complex. While in transit, the contents of internet communications are generally protected from government intrusion by constitutional rules against unreasonable searches and seizures,[64] although there is more legal ambiguity with data stored in “the cloud.” The courts, however, have held that transactional data about communications—data showing who is communicating with whom and when—is not protected by the Constitution.[65] Under a set of complex statutes, law enforcement and intelligence agencies can monitor communications and access stored information under varying degrees of oversight as part of criminal or national security investigations. In criminal probes, law enforcement authorities can monitor the content of internet communications in real time only if they have obtained an order, issued by a judge, under a standard that is actually a little higher than the one established by the Constitution for searches of physical places. The order must reflect a finding that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed.

The status of stored communications is more uncertain. One federal appeals court has ruled that the Constitution applies to stored communications, so that a judicial warrant is required for government access.[66]  Currently, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act states that the government can obtain access to e-mail or other documents stored in the cloud with a mere subpoena issued by a prosecutor or investigator without judicial approval.[67] As of mid-2013, Congress was considering a proposed reform to ECPA that would require government officials to obtain a warrant before accessing any private communications through online service providers.[68] The requirement would cover e-mail and documents stored using cloud services.[69] The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a civil regulatory agency, has complicated the issue by attempting to amend the bill to secure the authority to obtain stored e-mail and other documents directly from service providers.[70]

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act, which expanded some of the government’s surveillance and investigative powers in cases involving terrorism as well as in ordinary criminal investigations. Three expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act—including the government’s broad authority to conduct roving wiretaps of unidentified or “John Doe” targets, to wiretap “lone wolf” suspects who have no known connections to terrorist networks, and to secretly access a wide range of private business records with court orders issued on a broad standard (Section 215)—were renewed for an additional four years in May 2011.[71]

In mid-2013, The Guardian and the Washington Post revealed a series of secret documents[72] leaked by a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor that provide new information (and raise many new questions) about surveillance activities conducted by the United States government.

Leaked documents indicate that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) has interpreted Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act to permit the FBI to obtain orders that compel the largest telephone carriers in the U.S. (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and presumably others) to provide the NSA with records of all phone calls made to, from, and within the U.S. on an ongoing basis. These billions of call records include numbers dialed, length of call, and other “metadata.”[73] Data are gathered in bulk, without any particularized suspicion about an individual, phone number, or device. NSA analysts may conduct queries on this data without approval from the FISA Court or an independent magistrate.[74]

Leaks also reveal that under a program code-named “PRISM” the NSA has been compelling at least nine large U.S. companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple, to disclose content and metadata relating to e-mails, web chats, videos, images, and documents.[75] PRISM activities occur under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which permits the NSA to target the communications of non-U.S. persons who are reasonably believed to be located outside the United States in order to collect “foreign intelligence information.”[76] Although the program is targeted at persons abroad, the NSA is able to retain and use information “incidentally” collected about U.S. persons.

Critics have raised concern that the secret NSA programs may violate the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which protects people inside the U.S. (citizens and non-citizens alike) from unreasonable search and seizure, as well as human rights enshrined in international agreements. In June 2013, a diverse coalition of prominent NGOs and companies submitted a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to explicitly prohibit the blanket collection of metadata, investigate actions of the NSA, and hold public officials accountable for unconstitutional surveillance.[77] Legislators have introduced proposals to narrow the scope of NSA activities.[78]

In another concerning case regarding government access to information, the Associated Press reported in May 2013 that, as part of a national security leak investigation, the U.S. Justice Department subpoenaed and gained access to two months of phone records for several reporters following AP coverage of a failed bomb plot in Yemen.[79] Justice Department guidelines specify that, in the course of an investigation, requests for journalists’ records should be “as narrowly drawn as possible,” and that investigators should attempt to obtain records directly from journalists on a voluntary basis, when possible.[80] The Associated Press has since reported that the government’s actions have had a chilling effect on sources, discouraging even long-standing informants from speaking with the AP.[81] In July 2013, the Attorney General tightened the rules on getting reporters’ data, but did not prohibit the practice entirely.[82]

The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) requires telephone companies, broadband carriers, and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers to design their systems so that communications can be easily intercepted when government agencies have the legal authority to do so.[83] The FBI suggested in late 2010 that the law should be expanded to impose design requirements on online communications tools such as Gmail, Skype, and Facebook,[84] and while the FBI continued to push the issue,[85] no legislation has yet been proposed in Congress.

In April 2013, the House of Representatives voted in favor of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a proposed law that would allow ISPs and other corporations to share cyber threat information with one another and the government.[86] Civil liberties advocates warn that the bill, in its current form, would allow companies to share citizens’ private information with the government, including internet records and e-mail content, without first taking reasonable steps to remove material not related to the threat.[87] The Senate has since shelved the bill and President Obama has pledged to veto the legislation if it reaches his desk as written, citing concerns about privacy and civil liberties of internet users.[88]

Law enforcement agencies have also begun to use open, public websites and social media to monitor different groups for suspected criminal activity. One notable example that stoked controversy in February 2012 was an initiative by the New York Police Department (NYPD) to monitor Muslim student groups at various universities in the northeastern United States. The Associated Press reported that, from 2006 onward, the NYPD Cyber Intelligence unit had monitored blogs, websites, and online forums of Muslim student groups and produced a series of secret “Muslim Student Association” reports describing group activities, religious instruction, and the frequency of prayer by the groups.[89] The New York City mayor defended the practice by stating that the NYPD did not break any laws by monitoring websites and online activity that was already publicly available, although others pointed to the religious-profiling nature of the activity. Muslim students from across the nation have expressed concern about this type of surveillance and in late 2012 told Freedom House that they often self-censor when conducting online activities.

Like most other countries, the United States faces the growing challenge of addressing cyberattacks conducted by both international and domestic actors. China is one focal point of the cybersecurity discussion, especially following a report by computer security firm Mandiant which stated that many attacks against U.S. organizations, companies, and government agencies appear to have originated in an office of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Beijing.[90] The purpose of these attacks is presumably to gain information, but the United States faces other types of cybersecurity threats as well. For example, the Department of Homeland Security reported a wave of attacks in mid-2013 that sought to reveal vulnerabilities in infrastructure managed by private energy companies. The attacks seem to have originated in the Middle East, but the exact source is unknown.[91] In response to growing concern about cybersecurity threats, President Obama produced an executive order in February 2013 recognizing the need for improved cybersecurity measures and calling for a new “Cybersecurity Framework” to address security threats.[92] At the same time the U.S. military admitted that it is developing the ability to carry out offensive cyberattacks.[93] The documents leaked by Edward Snowden included a Presidential Policy Directive describing U.S. “Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO).”[94]

Notes: 


[1] “House Passes CISPA,” Center for Democracy and Technology PolicyBeta Blog, April 18, 2013, https://www.cdt.org/pr_statement/house-passes-cispa.

[2] Jason Koebler, “ACLU: CISPA is Dead (For Now),” US News and World Report, April 25, 2013, http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/04/25/aclu-cispa-is-dead-for-now.

[3] Mark Cooper, “The Socio-Economics of Digital Exclusion in America, 2010,” paper presented at 2010 TPRC: 38th Research Conference on Communications, Information, and Internet Policy, Arlington, Virginia, October 1–3, 2010.

[4] According to a study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as of June 2012 the United States was ranked 8th among the OECD member countries in terms of mobile wireless broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, and was ranked even lower, at 15th, on fixed-line broadband penetration. See, OECD Broadband Statistics, “OECD Fixed (Wired) Broadband Subscriptions per 100 Inhabitants, by Technology, June 2012,” and “OECD Terrestrial Mobile Wireless Broadband Subscriptions per 100 Inhabitants, by Technology, June 2012,” accessed April 10, 2013, http://www.oecd.org/sti/broadband/1d-OECD-WiredWirelessBB-2012-6.xls.

[5] International Telecommunication Union (ITU), “Percentage of individuals using the Internet, fixed (wired) Internet subscriptions, fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions,” 2012, accessed June 26, 2013, http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ICTEYE/Indicators/Indicators.aspx#.

[6] “Pew Internet: Broadband,” Pew Internet & American Life Project, accessed April 10, 2013. http://pewinternet.org/Commentary/2012/May/Pew-Internet-Broadband.aspx.

[7] Anne Neville, “Two Years and Five Updates for the National Broadband Map,” National Broadband Map Blog, January 31, 2013, http://www.broadbandmap.gov/blog/2956/two-years-and-five-updates-for-the-national-broadband-map.

[8] National Broadband Map, “Broadband Statistics Report: Broadband Availability in Urban vs. Rural Areas,” Report published January 2013, http://www.broadbandmap.gov/download/Broadband%20Availability%20in%20Rural%20vs%20Urban%20Areas.pdf.

[9] Kathryn Zickuhr & Aaron Smith, “Digital Differences,” Pew Internet and American Life Project, April 13, 2012, http://pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2012/PIP_Digital_differences_041312.pdf.

[10] International Telecommunication Union (ITU), “Mobile-cellular telephone subscriptions,” 2013, accessed June 26, 2013, http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ICTEYE/Indicators/Indicators.aspx#.

[11] Kathryn Zickuhr & Aaron Smith, “Digital Differences,” Pew Internet and American Life Project, April 13, 2012, http://pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2012/PIP_Digital_differences_041312.pdf.

[12] Stephanie Condon and Marguerite Reardon, “FCC Seeks Input on National Broadband Plan,” CNet News, April 8, 2009, http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10214974-38.html

[13] “National Broadband Plan: Connecting America,” Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 2010, http://www.broadband.gov/download-plan/

[14] Lennard G. Kruger, “The National Broadband Goals: Where Do We Stand?” Congressional Research Service, March 19, 2013, http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43016.pdf.

[15] “ISP Usage and Market Share: ISP Trends, Stats and Analysis,” StatOwl.com, November 2012, http://www.statowl.com/network_isp_market_share.php.

[16] Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “Internet Access Services: Status as of December 31, 2011,” http://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-releases-new-data-internet-access-services-6.

[17] Tim Wu, “Network Neutrality FAQ,” Timwu.org, accessed August 17, 2011, http://timwu.org/network_neutrality.html.

[18] Peter Svensson, “Comcast Blocks Some Internet Traffic,” MSNBC, October 19, 2007, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21376597/ns/technology_and_science-internet/

[19] Comcast Corporation v. Federal Communications Commission, No. 08-1291, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (April 6, 2010), http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/EA10373FA9C20DEA85257807005BD63F/$file/08-1291-1238302.pdf.

[21] Federal Communications Commission, Consent Decree In the Matter of Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless, DA 12-1228, July 31, 2012, http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-12-1228A1.pdf.

[22] “Report and Order: In the Matter of Preserving the Open Internet, Broadband Industry Practices,” FCC 10-201, December 21, 2010, http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-10-201A1.pdf.

[23] “Network Neutrality,” Public Knowledge, accessed April 28, 2012, http://www.publicknowledge.org/issues/network-neutrality

[24] Joint Brief for Verizon and MetroPCS, Verizon v. FCC, 11-1355, DC Circuit.

[25] Andrew McDiarmid, “CDT, Scholars, Technologists, and More Agree: ISPs Shouldn’t Have the Right to Edit the Net,” Center for Democracy and Technology PolicyBeta Blog, November 16, 2013, https://www.cdt.org/blogs/andrew-mcdiarmid/1611cdt-scholars-technologists-and-more-agree-isps-shouldn%E2%80%99t-have-right-edit-; Lucy Wolf, “Amicus Briefs Counter Verizon’s First Amendment Argument in Verizon v. FCC,” Public Knowledge Policy Blog, November 19, 2012, http://publicknowledge.org/blog/verizon-v-fcc-amicus-brief-roundup; Josh Levy, “Verizon vs. Humans,” Free Press Blog, http://www.savetheinternet.com/blog/2012/11/21/verizon-vs-humans.

[26] Treating domain names as property subject to criminal forfeiture, 18 U.S.C. 2253.

[27]“Public Library Funding & Technology Access Landscape 2011-2012: Public Library Funding Landscape,” American Library Association, p 15, accessed August 6, 2013, http://www.ala.org/research/sites/ala.org.research/files/content/initiatives/plftas/2011_2012/plftas12_funding landscape.pdf.

[28] Bob Bocher, “Children’s Internet Protection Act, CIPA: A Brief FAQ on Public Library Compliance,” Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, February 2004, updated March 11, 2010, http://dpi.state.wi.us/pld/cipafaqlite.html. See, e.g., Bradburn v. North Central Regional Library District (Washington state Supreme Court) No. 82200-0 (May 6, 2010); Bradburn v. NCLR, No. CV-06-327-EFS (E.D. Wash. April 10, 2013).

[29] Corynne McSherry, “U.S. Government Seizes 82 Websites: A Glimpse at the Draconian Future of Copyright Enforcement?” Electronic Frontier Foundation, November 29, 2010, https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2010/11/us-government-seizes-82-websites-draconian-future

[30] Trevor Timm, “Blacklist Bills Ripe for Abuse Part II: Expansion of Government Powers,” Deeplinks Blog, Electronic Frontier Foundation, December 9, 2011, https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/12/blacklist-bills-ripe-abuse-part-ii-expansion-government-powers.

[31] Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Rep. Jared Polis, Letter to Attorney General Holder and Secretary Napolitano regarding ICE domain seizures, August 30, 2012, http://lofgren.house.gov/images/Letter_to_AG_Holder_083012.pdf.

[32] “ICE, CBP, USPIS seize more than $13.6 million in fake NFL merchandise during 'Operation Red Zone'
313 websites seized and 23 individuals arrested nationwide for selling counterfeit NFL merchandise,” United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement News Release, January 31, 2013, http://www.ice.gov/news/releases/1301/130131neworleans.htm.

[33] Fight for the Future, http://sopastrike.com/numbers/.

[34] This information included video footage of a 2007 incident in which journalists and Iraqi civilians were killed by U.S. forces, documents on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, diplomatic cables from the U.S. State Department, and reports on prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay military prison, all of which number in the tens and (in the case of the Iraq war) hundreds of thousands.

[35] Geoffrey A. Fowler, “Amazon Says WikiLeaks Violated Terms of Service,” Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2010, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703377504575651321402763304.html.  

[36] Kevin Poulsen, “WikiLeaks Attacks Reveal Surprising, Avoidable Vulnerabilities,” Wired, December 3, 2010, http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/12/wikileaks-domain/

[37] Ewen MacAskill, “WikiLeaks Website Pulled by Amazon After US Political Pressure,” Guardian, December 2, 2010, http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/01/wikileaks-website-cables-servers-amazon

[38] Charlie Savage, “Soldier Admits Providing Files to WikiLeaks,” The New York Times, February 28, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/01/us/bradley-manning-admits-giving-trove-of-military-data-to-wikileaks.html?pagewanted=all;  Scott Shane, “Solider to Face More Serious Charges in Leak,” The New York Times, March 1, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/02/us/manning-to-face-more-serious-charge....

[39] Julianne Pepitone, “Online Gambling Toes a Confusing Legal Line,” CNN Money, June 10, 2013, http://money.cnn.com/2013/06/10/technology/innovation/online-gambling-poker/index.html.

[40] United States Department of Justice, Memorandum “Opinion for the Assistant Attorney General: Whether Proposals by Illinois and New York to Use the Internet and Out-of-State Transaction Processors to Sell Lottery Tickets to In-State Adults Violate the Wire Act,” September 20, 2011, http://www.justice.gov/olc/2011/state-lotteries-opinion.pdf.

[41] Deena Beasley and Nichola Groom, “Analysis: U.S. States Race to Capture Online Gaming Bonanza,” Reuters, February 28, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/28/net-us-usa-gambling-idUSBRE91R1O120130228.

[42] Cyrus Farivar, “Ultimate Poker to Become First Legal, Real-Money Online Poker Site in the U.S.,” Ars Technica, April 30, 2013, http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/04/ultimatepoker-to-become-first-legal-real-money-online-poker-site-in-us/.

[43] See for example the Credo “Stop the Tar Sands Pipeline” petition at http://www.credoaction.com/campaign/keystone_obama/index2.html. See also: Steve Williams, “President Obama Signs Hate Crimes Bill—Thank You to the 25,000 Care2 Members That Helped It Reach His Desk!” Care2, October 28, 2009, http://www.care2.com/causes/civil-rights/blog/25-000-care2-members-help-secure-presidents-signature-on-hate-crimes-bill/.

[44] Lee Rainey, Aaron Smith, Kay Lehman Schlozman, Henry Brady, and Sydney Verba, “Social Media and Political Engagement,” Pew Internet and American Life Project, October 19, 2012, http://pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2012/PIP_SocialMediaAndPoliticalEngagement_PDF.pdf.

[45] Aaron Smith & Maeve Duggan, “Presidential Campaign Donations in the Digital Age,” Pew Internet and American Life Project, October 25, 2012, http://pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2012/PIP_State_of_the_2012_race_donations.pdf.

[46] “Intermediary Liability: Protecting Internet Platforms for Expression and Innovation,” Center for Democracy and Technology, April 2010, http://www.cdt.org/files/pdfs/CDT-Intermediary%20Liability_%282010%29.pdf

[47] Scott Shane, “Solider to Face More Serious Charges in Leak,” The New York Times, March 1, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/02/us/manning-to-face-more-serious-charges-in-leak.html?ref=julianpassange.

[48] Ryan Singel, “Twitter’s Response to WikiLeaks Subpoena Should Be the Industry Standard,” Wired, January 10, 2011, http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/01/twitter/.

[49] Dan Goodin, “Twitter fights government subpoena demanding Occupy Wall Street protester info,” Ars Technica, May 5, 2012, http://bit.ly/IZHFaO.

[50] Russ Buettner, “A Brooklyn Protestor Pleads Guilty After His Twitter Posts Sink His Case,” The New York Times, December 12, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/13/nyregion/malcolm-harris-pleads-guilty-over-2011-march.html.

[51] “Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Reform,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, accessed August 8, 2013, https://www.eff.org/issues/cfaa.

[53] “Rep Zoe Lofgren Introduces Bipartisan Aaron’s Law,” website of Representative Zoe Lofgren, June 20, 2013, http://www.lofgren.house.gov/images/stories/pdf/aarons law - lofgren - 061913.pdf.

[54] Karen McVeigh, “US hacker Andrew Auernheimer given three-year jail term for AT&T breach,” The Guardian, March 18, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/mar/18/us-hacker-andrew-auernheimer-at-t.

[55] David Streitfeld, “Bay Area Officials Cut Cell Coverage to Thwart Protestors,” Bits Blog, NYTimes.com, August 12, 2011, http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/12/bay-area-authorities-cut-cell-coverage-to-thwart-protestors/. See also, Cynthia Wong, “Welcome to San Francisco – Next Stop, Cairo?” Center for Democracy and Technology PolicyBeta Blog, August 23, 2011, http://cdt.org/blogs/cynthia-wong/238welcome-san-francisco-next-stop-cairo.

[56] Mike Masnick, “FCC Asked For Declaratory Ruling That BART Shutting Off Mobile Phone Service Was Illegal,” TechDirt (blog), August 31, 2011, http://www.techdirt.com/blog/wireless/articles/20110830/11591515740/fcc-asked-declaratory-ruling-that-bart-shutting-off-mobile-phone-service-was-illegal.shtml.

[57] “Commission Seeks Comment on Certain Wireless Interruptions,” Federal Communications Commission, March 1, 2012, http://www.fcc.gov/document/commission-seeks-comment-certain-wireless-service-interruptions

[58] Michael Cabanatuan, “BART Cellphone Shutdown Rules Adopted,” SF Gate, December 2, 2011, http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/BART-cell-phone-shutdown-rules-adopted-2344326.php. See also Gabe Rottman,
“Shutting Down Cell Service During Protests: The Constitutional Dimension,” ACLU of Northen California, May 1, 2012, http://bit.ly/16Am4bd.

[59] Brian Heaton, “California Governor Vetos Cell Service Shutdown Bill,” Government Technology, October 1, 2012, http://www.govtech.com/policy-management/California-Governor-Vetoes-Cell-Service-Shutdown-Bill.html

[60] Erica Newland, Caroline Nolan, Cynthia Wong, and Jillian York, “Account Deactivation and Content Removal: Guiding Principles and Practices for Companies and Users,” Global Network Initiative, September 2011, http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/node/7080.

[61] “Apple v. Does,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, accessed August 1, 2012, http://www.eff.org/cases/apple-v-does

[62] “About NISTIC,” National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, accessed April 23, 2013, http://www.nist.gov/nstic/about-nstic.html.

[63] Jay Stanley, “Don’t Put Your Trust in ‘Trusted Identities,’” Blog of Rights (blog), American Civil Liberties Union, January 7, 2011, http://www.aclu.org/blog/technology-and-liberty/dont-put-your-trust-trusted-identities. See also, Jim Dempsey, “New Urban Myth: The Internet ID Scare,” Policy Beta (blog), Center for Democracy and Technology, January 11, 2011, http://www.cdt.org/blogs/jim-dempsey/new-urban-myth-internet-id-scare

[64] Paul Ohm, “Court Rules Email Protected by Fourth Amendment,” Freedom to Tinker, December 14, 2010, http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/paul/court-rules-email-protected-fourth-amendment

[65] “A Brief History of Surveillance Law,” Center for Democracy & Technology, accessed August 17, 2011, https://www.cdt.org/issue/wiretap-ecpa.

[66] United States v. Warshak, 09-3176, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

[67] Ibid.

[68] Greg Nojeim, “Senate ‘Dream Team’ Introduced ECPA Reform Bill,” Center for Democracy and Technology PolicyBeta Blog, March 19, 2013, https://www.cdt.org/blogs/greg-nojeim/1903senate-dream-team-introduces-ecpa-reform-bill.

[69] “ECPA: About the Issue,” Digital Due Process, accessed April 23, 2013, http://digitaldueprocess.org/index.cfm?objectid=37940370-2551-11DF-8E02000C296BA163.

[70] Leslie Harris, “The SEC’s Power Grab Threatens to Distort the US Justice System,” Center for Democracy & Technology, July 31, 2013, https://www.cdt.org/commentary/sec’s-power-grab-threatens-distort-us-justice-system.

[71] “Patriot Act Excesses,” New York Times, October 7, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/opinion/08thu1.html

[72] e.g. Glenn Greenwald, “NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Verizon Customers Daily,” The Guardian, June 5, 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order.

[73] For more information on privacy and metadata, see Aubra Anthony, “When Metadata Becomes Megadata: What Government Can Learn,” Center for Democracy and Technology PolicyBeta Blog, June 17, 2013, https://www.cdt.org/blogs/1706when-metadata-becomes-megadata-what-government-can-learn-metadata.

[74] “Comparing Two Secret Surveillance Programs,” The New York Times, June 7, 2013,  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/06/07/us/comparing-two-secret-su....

[75] “NSA Slides Explain the PRISM Data Collection Program,” Washington Post, June 6, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/prism-collection-d....

[76] H.R. 6304 Sec. 702.

[77] Coalition Letter to Congress on U.S. Spying, June 11, 2013, https://www.cdt.org/files/pdfs/CDT-Coalition-NSA-Spying.pdf.

[78] Spencer Ackerman and Paul Lewis, “Congress Eyes Renewed Push for Legislation to Rein in the NSA,” The Guardian, August 2, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/02/congress-nsa-legislation-surveillance.

[79] Carrie Johnson, “Justice Department Secretly Obtains AP Phone Records,” National Public Radio, May 14, 2013, http://www.npr.org/2013/05/14/183810320/justice-department-secretly-obtains-ap-phone-records.

[80] “Look Who’s Talking: The Administration Seems to Have Trampled on Press Freedom,”The Economist, May 18, 2013,  http://econ.st/YN4N8n.

[81] Lindy Royce-Bartlett, “Leak Probe Has Chilled Sources, AP Exec Says,” The Associated Press, June 19, 2013,  http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/19/politics/ap-leak-probe.

[82] Charlie Savage, “Holder Tightens Rules on Getting Reporters’ Data.” The New York Times, July 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/13/us/holder-to-tighten-rules-for-obtaining-reporters-data.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.

[83] The FCC does not classify Skype as an “interconnected VoIP” service.

[84] Charlie Savage, “U.S. Tries to Make it Easier to Wiretap the Internet.” The New York Times, September 27, 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/us/27wiretap.html?pagewanted=all.

[85] Declan McCullagh, “FBI: We Need Wiretap-Ready Websites – Now,” CNET, May 4, 2012, http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-57428067-83/fbi-we-need-wiretap-ready-web-sites-now.

[86] “Rogers-Ruppersberger Cyber Bill (CISPA) Passes House,” U.S. House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Press Release, April 18, 2013, http://1.usa.gov/18Aoi6v.

[87] “House Passes CISPA,” Center for Democracy and Technology PolicyBeta Blog, April 18. 2013, https://www.cdt.org/pr_statement/house-passes-cispa; Michelle Richardson “CISPA Explainer #1: What Information Can Be Shared?” ACLU Blog, April 2, 2013, http://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security-technology-and-liberty/cispa-....

[88] “Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 624 – Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act,” Executive Office of the President, Office of Management and Budget, April 16, 2013, http://1.usa.gov/110RWxH.

[89] Al Baker and Kate Taylor, “Bloomberg Defends Police’s Monitoring of Muslim Student Web Sites,” New York Times, February 22, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/22/nyregion/bloomberg-defends-polices-monitoring-of-muslim-student-web-sites.html.

[90] David E. Sanger, David Barboza, and Nicole Perlroth, “Chinese Army Unit is Seen as Tied to Hacking Against the U.S.” The New York Times, February 18, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/19/technology/chinas-army-is-seen-as-tied-to-hacking-against-us.html?pagewanted=all&gwh=24BE5E3C317441D6CAB213658308303F&_r=0.

[91] David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, “Cyberattacks Against U.S. Corporations Are on the Rise,” The New York Times, May 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/us/cyberattacks-on-rise-against-us-corporations.html?pagewanted=all.

[92] “Executive Order – Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity,” February 12, 2013, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/02/12/executive-order-improving-critical-infrastructure-cybersecurity.

[93] Mark Mazzetti and David E. Sanger, “Security Leader Says U.S. Would Retaliate Against Cyberattacks,” The New York Times, March 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/us/intelligence-official-warns-congress-that-cyberattacks-pose-threat-to-us.html?pagewanted=all.

[94] Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, “Obama Orders U.S. to Draw Up Overseas Target List for Cyberattacks,” The Guardian, June 7, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/07/obama-china-targets-cyber-overseas.

2013 Scores

Freedom on the Net Status

Free

Freedom on the Net Total
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

17

A Subtotal: Obstacles to Access
(0 = best, 25 = worst)

4

B Subtotal: Limits on Content
(0 = best, 35 = worst)

1

C Subtotal: Violations of User Rights
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

12