By Sharon Bradford Franklin, Senior Counsel, The Constitution Project
As the Department of Homeland Security has evolved over the past ten years, one of its central functions has become to “safeguard and secure cyberspace.” DHS is the lead agency overseeing cybersecurity for the federal government’s civilian operations. This role fits well with DHS’s overall homeland security responsibilities, and from a civil liberties perspective, DHS is the federal agency best suited to this job.
Unless they incorporate adequate civil liberties safeguards, cybersecurity programs that permit the government to collect private communications from computer networks create risks that Americans will be subject to the equivalent of a perpetual warrantless wiretap of their private communications and web browsing. DHS has demonstrated that it takes these risks seriously, and has involved its Privacy Office in developing and operating cybersecurity programs.