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Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB)

About the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (“PCLOB”) is an independent, bipartisan agency within the Executive Branch established by the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 2000ee-1). The PCLOB is comprised of four part-time members and a full-time chairman, who is vested with management responsibilities such as hiring employees.

Purpose

The board shall review and analyze actions the executive branch takes to protect the Nation from terrorism, ensuring the need for such actions is balanced with the need to protect privacy and civil liberties.

The board shall ensure that liberty concerns are appropriately considered in the development and implementation of laws, regulations, and policies related to efforts to protect the Nation against terrorism.

Activities

Pursuant to its enabling statute, the PCLOB has issued a regulation setting out the agency’s organization, function, and operations.

Section 803 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, requires the designation of agency privacy and civil liberties officers at select agencies and outlines their responsibilities. In addition, section 803 requires such officers to submit periodic reports to the PCLOB regarding the reviews they have undertaken during the reporting period, the type of advice provided, the response given to such advice, and the number, nature, and disposition of the complaints received by the agency for alleged violations. The PCLOB’s enabling statute directs the board to receive these reports and, when appropriate, make recommendations to the privacy and civil liberties officers regarding their activities.

The PCLOB plays a role in Executive Order (EO) 13636, which directs multiple agencies to research and create a Cybersecurity Framework to minimize the risk of a cyberattack on critical infrastructure. The PCLOB consults with the Department of Homeland Security in connection with a report required in the EO, recommending ways to mitigate the privacy and civil liberties risks created by cybersecurity measures adopted under the EO.

The PCLOB also plays a role in Presidential Policy Directive 28 (PPD-28), where the President directed the articulation of “principles to guide why, whether, when, and how the United States conducts signals intelligence activities for authorized foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes.” In the directive, the President encouraged the PCLOB to provide an assessment of the implementation of any matters contained in the directive that fall within the board’s mandate.

The PCLOB has enacted a policy related to its advice responsibilities to agencies, when agencies engage with the PCLOB in early stages of the process of a new agency policy, rule, or regulation being developed.