Educating decision makers, engaging the public, and facilitating solutions that protect our right to privacy.

News and past events

Cybersecurity Fair for the 116th Congress

On April 24th, 2019, the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee participated in the Cybersecurity Fair for the 116th Congress. We brought all of the tremendous, publicly available resources we could fit on a folding table and shared as much as we could with House staff.

Read our quick checklist of security tips here.

Special thanks to the House of Representatives and a the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense Guide!

Sean Vitka
Mass surveillance under the PATRIOT Act

On December 15th, 2019, Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act will once again come up for sunset. For years, the FBI and NSA used Section 215 to secretly collect all telephone records across the United States. The USA FREEDOM Act restricted this practice, yet under only one sub-provision of Section 215, the NSA acquired over 534 million phone records in 2017.

To answer some of the many questions around Section 215, Alex Abdo will walk you through his team’s historic successes and setbacks challenging mass surveillance in court, Sandy Fulton will describe the real impacts of mass surveillance in America, and Marcy Wheeler will debut findings from a new report she has authored for Demand Progress Education Fund on the authority. In turn, this panel will explain what Congress and the public know about Section 215 and what they need to find out before it comes back up for reauthorization.


  • Alex Abdo, senior staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute. While at the ACLU in 2015, Abdo argued an appeal that resulted in the Second Circuit invalidating the NSA’s bulk call-records program.

  • Sandy Fulton, government relations director at Free Press Action Fund. Fulton is one of the primary advocates focused on the reform of mass surveillance in America.

  • ModeratorSean Vitka, director of the Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee.

  • Marcy Wheeler, senior fellow at the Center for Cyber & Homeland Security at George Washington University. Wheeler is also the primary author and owner of the blog emptywheel and the primary author of two Demand Progress Education Fund reports chronicling mass surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

WHEN: Monday, February 25, 2019 at 12 pm

WHERE: Longworth 1310

Sean Vitka
Protecting the Freedom to Encrypt

Widespread availability of advanced encryption technology has improved security for consumers and businesses. But as digital products and services have become more secure, some in the law enforcement and intelligence communities have voiced concerns that encryption inhibits their ability to prevent terrorism and prosecute crimes.

For example, the Department of Justice is exploring a potential legal mandate requiring companies to design their technologies to allow law enforcement to access consumer data during criminal investigations. While it is important for law enforcement to have the right tools to prevent and solve crimes, history suggests that attempts to limit encryption are impractical, impede progress in information security, create new cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and make it more difficult for U.S. companies to compete abroad.

The Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) held an expert panel discussion on how policymakers can protect consumer and business access to encryption and put in place policies that both encourage advances in cryptography and protect the rule of law. This event featured opening remarks by Representative Suzan DelBene (D-WA).


  • William A. Carter, Deputy Director and Fellow, Technology Policy Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  • ModeratorDaniel Castro, Vice President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF)
  • Mike Godwin, Distinguished Senior Fellow, R Street Institute
  • Robyn Greene, Policy Counsel and Government Affairs Lead, Open Technology Institute, New America
  • Riana Pfefferkorn, Cryptography Fellow, Stanford University, Center for Internet and Society
  • Amie Stepanovich, U.S. Policy Manager, Access Now

* Opening remarks by Representative Suzan DelBene (D-WA).

WHEN: Thursday, June 28, 2018, 10:30am
WHERE: U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, HVC-200

The Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee hosts these panels to bring experts to DC and in the interest of presenting Congressional staff with informative discussion.

Pierce Stanley
Zero Tolerance: Rights at the Border and Ports of Entry

At Zero Tolerance: Rights at the Border and Ports of Entry, experts who know exactly what's going on at the border discussed the current situation and what Congress can do about it. The panel explored the Fourth Amendment implications of border prosecutions, the surveillance provided for by immigration bills that purport to solve immigration issues, what the zero tolerance policy looks like in practice, and the competing immigration bills and policies at play. 


  • Julie Yihong Mao, Staff Attorney, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NIPNLG)
  • *Moderator, Jumana Musa, Director, Fourth Amendment Center, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
  • Ofelia Calderón, Founding Partner, Calderón Seguin PLC
  • Sameera Hafiz, Senior Policy Strategist, Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC)

WHEN: Thursday, June 28, 2018 at 10am
WHERE: Longworth 1310

The Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee hosts these panels to bring experts to DC and in the interest of presenting Congressional staff with informative discussion.

Pierce Stanley
The CLOUD Act: Rain or Shine?
Image courtesy of the Electronic Frontier Foundation,  Creative Commons Attribution License

Image courtesy of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons Attribution License

International law enforcement's access to private information is contentious and complicated. The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in U.S. v. Microsoft, and the CLOUD Act was introduced in the House and Senate. This panel discussion examined the CLOUD Act, reviewed issues before the Supreme Court, and discussed the role of Congress in the cloud.


  • Alex Berengaut, Partner at Covington & Burling (Microsoft)
  • Neema Guliani, Legislative counsel at ACLU
  • David Lieber, Senior privacy policy counsel at Google
  • Naureen Shah, Senior director of campaigns at Amnesty International USA, invited
  • Moderator, Alexis Collins, Senior attorney at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and adjunct professor at Georgetown Law School

WHEN: Monday, March 19, 2018 at 11 a.m.
WHERE: H-122, U.S. Capitol

Pierce Stanley
What to do about HPSCI?

Congressional oversight of intelligence agencies is broken, and the ongoing debate over HPSCI's memos proves that changes are necessary. At this briefing we heard from bipartisan experts on what must be done to fix intelligence oversight, including how HPSCI should be reformed and what information the public and members of Congress need to ensure the process is functioning well. The panel took place on Friday, February 9 at 3 p.m. in Rayburn 2456.


  • Patrick Eddington, policy analyst in homeland security and civil liberties at the Cato Institute

  • Daniel Schuman, policy director at Demand Progress Education Fund

  • Mandy Smithberger, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project On Government Oversight

The Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee and Demand Progress Education Fund have joined partners from across the political spectrum in calling for critical reforms to intelligence oversight, in particular within the House. These common-sense reforms would help resolve the many concerns that have come to light in recent days. Read more about what needs to change.

WHEN: Friday, Feb. 9 at 3 p.m.
WHERE: Rayburn 2456

The Fourth Amendment Advisory Committee hosts these panels to bring experts to DC and in the interest of presenting Congressional staff with informative discussion.

Pierce Stanley