Blog of Rights

Michelle
Richardson

Michelle Richardson (@Richardson_Mich) is a Legislative Counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office where she focuses on national security and government transparency issues such as the Patriot Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, cybersecurity, state secrets and the Freedom of Information Act. Before coming to the ACLU in 2006, Richardson served as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee where she specialized in national security, civil rights and constitutional issues for Democratic Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.).

Ice Cream: Very, Very Good. Cybersecurity Bill: Not So Much

Ice Cream: Very, Very Good. Cybersecurity Bill: Not So Much

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 7:44pm
Today, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs committee held a hearing on S. 2105, the Cybersecurity Act of 2012, sponsored by Sens. Lieberman, Collins, Rockefeller and Feinstein. Introduced earlier this week, this bill delivers the comprehensive reform that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats have been promising since last summer. We will blog a more thorough analysis tomorrow, but short story is that the bill is a mixed bag for civil liberties. The good news is that the bill does not include a kill switch; the bad is that it permits companies to share American internet use data with military agencies like the NSA. So color us shocked that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on the hearing record that the ACLU thinks the bill is "very, very good." Chocolate ice cream is very, very good. The complex, 205-page, ground-breaking rewrite of existing law — well, needs a few changes to really protect privacy. Check back soon for more information.

Cybersecurity Bill Advances in House – But Does it Advance Privacy?

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:06pm

Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity passed a bill that will permit greater information sharing for cybersecurity efforts. Called the PRECISE Act, the bill as reported out of the subcommittee, will create an exception…

Happy Cybersecurity Awareness Month!

Happy Cybersecurity Awareness Month!

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:50pm

We would like to educate you about how cybersecurity may justify the next series of big brother powers.

The Government Might Know You're Reading This

The Government Might Know You're Reading This

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:01pm

"If you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about."

Many Americans have said this, or heard it, when discussing the expanded surveillance capabilities the government has claimed since 9/11. But it turns out…

Four More Years of Unchecked Spying, Surveillance and Secrecy

Four More Years of Unchecked Spying, Surveillance and Secrecy

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:22pm

Last night, Congress passed and the president signed a four-year extension of three expiring provisions of the Patriot Act. You may recall that the original expiration was scheduled for December 31, 2009 — and what did Congress do after 18…

Howlers on the Patriot Act

By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project & Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 5:44pm

The Patriot Act has been surrounded by a cloud of fear-mongering since it was reintroduced almost immediately after the 9/11 attacks and rushed through Congress, without any finding that the sweeping new powers granted by the act had anything to do…

FBI's Latest Power Grab Is a Bold and Unnecessary Move

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 12:17pm

What do the ACLU, the former director of the NSA and a tech industry lawyer all have in common (and this is not a joke)? They believe that the government's recent request to let the FBI get Americans' internet use records in national security investigations…

Gang of Eight Members Want a Bigger Gang

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 4:37pm

The “gang of eight” is a group of members of Congress with a pretty sweet name that includes the leaders, both Democrat and Republican, of the Senate and House, as well as the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Intelligence…

FISA "Compromise" Is Actually Not A Compromise At All, Thank You

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 1:28pm

I'm sure you've heard about Senator Bond's proposed "compromise." He floated an outline late last week at a press conference that represents what he calls his last offer in the negotiations about whether and how to expand our foreign…

FISA Train Speeds Off the Tracks

By Michelle Richardson, Legislative Counsel, ACLU Washington Legislative Office at 3:21pm
Yesterday the FISA train came off the rails in a big way - oddly enough, right as the House was taking up railroad safety. After beginning a debate in the morning, then breaking for a short recess, the Republicans offered a particularly nasty motion…
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