Join us for an OpenTheGovernment town hall to discuss efforts to combat secrecy and build consensus around ways to address constitutional threats stemming from warrantless government surveillance programs. Experts will provide insight into the policies and practices that give the FBI and domestic law enforcement access to information collected without a warrant, and the dangers this poses to privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights.
The event will take place as Congress is debating reforms to rein in the FBI’s use of warrantless surveillance of people in and outside of the United States, including U.S. citizens. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Act (FISA), set to expire at the end of the year, allows the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to access Americans’ private communications without a warrant or evidence of criminal activity. Speakers will discuss the implications the law has on civil rights and government accountability, and will explore the use of “parallel construction,” the practice by which law enforcement agencies recreate evidence in order to conceal their use of warrantless, secret sources of information to build criminal cases.
Town hall participants will also address the secrecy concerns regarding the FBI’s use of the new “Black Identity Extremist” (BIE) label, which has raised a number of accountability issues regarding the disproportionate impact that opaque government monitoring programs have on communities of color, religious minorities, and activists. Experts will discuss the recent disclosures regarding the FBI’s BIE label, the intersection with national security surveillance programs, and efforts underway to use transparency laws to get information on law enforcement targeting of Muslim communities, Movement for Black Lives leaders, and protest organizers.
This town hall is intended to be a collaborative workshop: Participants are encouraged to bring questions, share their experiences, and provide updates on their work relating to research, advocacy, and reporting on government surveillance issues addressed during the discussion.