Phase II (2013-2014)

On June 3, 2013, in London, as part of Phase II, TPP held a roundtable with industry, academics, and privacy advocates to review a second round of country reports and a draft paper outlining a human rights analysis of government systematic access powers. At the roundtable and during the TPP board meeting the following day, roundtable participants and TPP board members expressed desire to continue the inquiry, with an emphasis on transparency. However, there was no clear sense of whether to try to develop any consensus around the principles that should regulate government access demands.

Two days after the London roundtable, on June 5, the Washington Post and The Guardian newspaper began publishing a series of stories detailing surveillance activities of the US government, including a program under which the NSA demanded from telephone companies systematic disclosure, on a daily basis, of call detail records for all calls to, from and within the US. The newspapers also published online what appeared to be highly classified US government documents describing the legal and technical details of the telephony metadata program and other surveillance programs. The stories were followed by others, also based on leaked documents, describing systematic surveillance programs of the British government. German and French publications soon thereafter published stories stating in broad terms that German and French authorities also conducted intrusive electronic surveillance programs similar to those conducted by the US and the UK. It is expected that disclosures about US programs may continue, and the US government has sought to reclaim control over the debate by making its own disclosures, intended to show that the programs are lawful, carefully controlled, and effective. Among other things, the US government has extensively described the legal basis for its systematic access to telephony metadata.

The result from Phase II was a comparative analysis between the countries in the study and a website, hosted by CDT, to track systematic access developments in countries. In light of the Snowden disclosures and the increased public attention to the issue, the TPP board decided to continue to pursue the work in a shorter phase, dubbed “Phase II.5” to explore accountability.