Washington Post: A federal privacy watchdog is poised to come back from the dead

February 8, 2022

The five-member independent watchdog agency has operated on-and-off without a full complement of members or a chairperson since 2017. That has hampered PCLOB’s ability to advise other federal agencies and inspect how their initiatives are taking privacy and civil liberties concerns into account. 

“It really stifles their ability to do anything,” said Jeramie Scott, senior counsel at the advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), of the lack of quorum at the agency. 

A group of nonprofits and advocacy groups including EPIC and the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) urged President Biden in a September letter to fill gaps on the board “as expeditiously as possible.” They wrote that the agency is vital to holding the government “accountable for safeguarding our privacy and civil liberties in surveillance programs that are often shrouded in secrecy.” 

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