Documents reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted. POLITICO also reviewed and previously reported on documents seeking the authority to extend deadlines on merger reviews and prosecutions.
A privacy organization warns a bill in Congress would violate privacy and security by requiring "every message sent" to be read by government-approved scanning software.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation said the EARN IT bill sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would spell the end of encryption online.
The bill's authors avoided the word "encryption," EFF noted, but they proposed "legislation that enables an all-out assault on encryption."
"It would create a 19-person commission that's completely controlled by the attorney general and law enforcement agencies. And, at the hearing, a vice-president at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children made it clear what he wants the best practices to be," EFF said.
"NCMEC believes online services should be made to screen their messages for material that NCMEC considers abusive; use screening technology approved by NCMEC and law enforcement; report what they find in the messages to NCMEC; and be held legally responsible for the content of messages sent by others."
The objective appears to be "an Internet where the law required every message sent to be read by government-approved scanning software. Companies that handle such messages wouldn't be allowed to securely encrypt them, or they'd lose legal protections that allow them to operate."
The proposal would provide for a removal of some legal protections, under Section 230 of federal law, for sites that don't follow the "best practices."
That would mean the sites "can be sued into bankruptcy," the report said.
The organization, which advocates for privacy issues and individual control over online data, said the "commission" would be dominated by law enforcement and its allies.
In a sweeping power grab, the Department of Justice has asked Congress for the ability to go directly to chief judges in order to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies.
The proposed changes have raised concerns over the implications for habeas corpus - the right to appear before a judge and seek release.
"Not only would it be a violation of that, but it says ‘affecting pre-arrest," said Normal L. Reimer, who heads up the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "So that means you could be arrested and never brought before a judge until they decide that the emergency or the civil disobedience is over. I find it absolutely terrifying. Especially in a time of emergency, we should be very careful about granting new powers to the government."