Friday, March 23, 2018

Omnibus Budget Include Money for Election Security

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) will get $380 Million to disburse to States 45 days after the Enactment of the Bill.

States will get a Minimum of $3 million, Territories $600,000, with the rest Allocated by Population, like HAVA, and States will have Two years to provide a 5% Match of the Funds received.

This is a welcome development, but it does raise questions: Will there be any Joint Resources made available in Addition to the State Grants?

How far will this money go, given that it’s roughly 10% of the Funds originally authorized by HAVA?

Can the Funds make a Difference in 2018?

There will be more Analysis of this Provision in the days and weeks ahead, but for now it’s encouraging that Congress has finally put some Money behind all this talk about Election Security.

Kudos to Senators Lankford (OK), Klobuchar (MN), and others who worked to get this Language included, as well as to the Members and Staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who held a Hearing yesterday to highlight their Recommendations for improving Election Security, which undoubtedly helped push this Provision to the Finish Line.

The Bill still needs to be Approved and Signed by the President, but the prospects look good for a Small Infusion of Federal Election Funding in the relatively near Future.

While Lawmakers rejoiced over a larger Budget for Election Security, Rights Activists took them to task for inserting the CLOUD Act, which will significantly amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) but falls short on Privacy Protections, at the end of the 2,232-page bill.

"While the passage of the CLOUD Act will help the U.S. Department of Justice and foreign governments access evidence and communications content held outside of the U.S., it's a shame that the bill does nothing to extend long-overdue privacy rights for the digital age to ordinary Americans. This is a lost opportunity for what could have been a win-win-win, especially at a time when Congress should be looking for clear ways to protect the privacy of Americans' data," Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) Vice President for Policy Chris Calabrese said in a statement. "While it's too late to include in this spending bill, the Senate should take up the Email Privacy Act to complement this legislation."

The bill leaves it "in the hands of the Department of Justice to determine whether countries that have weak surveillance standards and procedures will be empowered to serve direct surveillance demands on U.S. providers," according to Greg Nojeim, Director of CDT's Freedom, Security & Technology Project. "DOJ could use this legislation to diminish privacy rights worldwide, or to persuade other governments to raise their surveillance standards in order to qualify for an agreement. We fear the U.S. Congress hasn't done enough to require DOJ to make the right decisions."

Fight for the Future Deputy Campaign Director Evan Greer said in a release, “The CLOUD Act would recklessly expose the sensitive information that we entrust with big tech companies, creating loopholes for police in the U.S. and other countries to access our information without judicial oversight.”

She said the Act effectively “creates an end-run around the Fourth Amendment and endangers all internet users' basic right to privacy, security, and free expression.”

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