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[liberationtech] Skype Open Letter: CALL FOR SIGNATORIES

Christopher Soghoian chris at
Wed Jan 16 22:58:24 PST 2013

You may want to consider rewriting your law enforcement/government
surveillance section:

As a result of the service being acquired by Microsoft in 2011, it may now
be required to comply with CALEA due to the company being headquartered in
Redmond, Washington. Furthermore, as a US-based communication provider,
Skype would therefore be required to comply with the secretive practice of
National Security Letters.

You don't articulate why being subject to CALEA is bad. Are the people
signing the letter arguing that law enforcement should never have access to
real-time intercepts of skype voice/video communications? If so, say that,
and why. If not, CALEA merely mandates access capabilities, it doesn't
specify under what situations the government can perform an interception,

Also, if you want to raise the issue of secretive surveillance practices,
NSLs wouldn't be at the top of my list (yes, they don't require a judge,
but they can at best be used to obtain communications metadata). I would
instead focus your criticism of the fact that US surveillance law does not
sufficiently protect communications between two non-US persons, and in
particular, the government can intercept such communications without even
having to demonstrate probable cause to a judge. Specifically, non-US
persons have a real reason to fear FISA Amendments Act of 2008 section 702

Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 ("FAA"), codified as 50
U.S.C. 1181a, which allows the Attorney General and the Director of
National Intelligence ("DNI") to authorize jointly the targeting of
non-United States persons for the purposes of gathering intelligence for a
period of up to one year. 50 U.S.C. 1881a(1). Section 702 contains
restrictions, including the requirement that the surveillance "may not
intentionally target any person known at the time of acquisition to be
located in the United States." 50 U.S.C. § 1881a(b)(1). The Attorney
General and DNI must submit to the FISC an application for an order ("mass
acquisition order") for the surveillance either before their joint
authorization or within seven days thereof. The FAA sets out a procedure by
which the Attorney General and DNI must obtain certification from FISC for
their program, which includes an assurance that the surveillance is
designed to limit surveillance to persons located outside of the United
States. However, the FAA does not require the government to identify
targets of surveillance, and the FISC does not consider individualized
probable cause determinations or supervise the program.

While I am happy to provide feedback, I'm in no way authorized to sign on
to this letter on behalf of the ACLU.

On Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 11:58 AM, Nadim Kobeissi <nadim at> wrote:

> Dear Privacy Advocates and Internet Freedom Activists,
> I call on you to review the following draft for our Open Letter to Skype
> and present your name or the name of your organization as signatories:
> The letter will be released soon. Feedback is also welcome.
> Thank you,
> NK
> --
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