4 Confirmed (at last) for Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board
Tonight the U.S. Senate confirmed four of the five nominees for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board: Rachel Brand; Elizabeth Cook; Jim Dempsey (of the Center for Democracy and Technology); and Pat Wald (long-time judge on the DC Circuit).
This is good news. The PCLOB has not been up and running for several years, and now it will have a quorum. The importance of having the Board in place has been underscored recently by the Senate’s consideration of the cybersecurity bill. If there is lots of information sharing, then there should be effective oversight of that sharing.
The goods news is incomplete, though. The nominee for Chair is David Medine, who is a great nominee. He was voted out of the Judiciary Committee this year, but on a party-line vote. There are no criticisms I have been able to discover of Medine’s qualifications — he was the senior civil servant for years at the FTC on privacy, and he has counseled major global clients at WilmerHale on privacy and security.
The lack of a chair matters. As discussed in my testimony this week in the Senate Homeland Security Committee, the statute allows only the Chairman to hire staff: “The chairman of the Board … shall appoint and fix the compensation of a full-time executive director and such other personnel as may be necessary to enable the Board to carry out its functions.” Clearly, the Board cannot carry out its work as the statute intends if there is no Chairman in place.
The Board can now begin its work. But it needs a Chairman, and it needs staff. The Senate has more work to do on this.