President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the country’s law enforcement has cleared the Senate.
The Senate voted 52-47 on Wednesday to confirm Sen. Jeff Sessions, whose record on civil liberties issues—including digital rights—has drawn fire from Democratic lawmakers and public interest groups.
EFF has expressed concerns about Sessions’ record on surveillance, encryption, and freedom of the press. Those concerns intensified during his confirmation process.
Throughout his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and his written responses to additional questions from lawmakers, Sessions made a number of troubling statements. He said he would support legislation to enable a privacy-invasive Rapid DNA system. He refused to definitively commit not to put journalists in jail for doing their job. He dodged questions about Justice Department policies on Stingrays, and wouldn’t commit to publish guidelines on how federal law enforcement uses government hacking. He called it “critical” that law enforcement be able to “overcome” encryption.
His Senate record on surveillance is also disturbing. Sessions helped to derail reform to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act in the Senate. He also opposed the USA FREEDOM Act, a set of moderate reforms to the NSA’s mass collection of information about Americans’ domestic phone calls. In 2015, he went so far as to pen an alarmist op-ed against the bill, in which he claimed that the bulk phone records collection was “subject to extraordinary oversight” and warned the bill “would make it vastly more difficult for the NSA to stop a terrorist than it is to stop a tax cheat.”
Read the rest at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.