The Senate on Thursday voted to approve three nominations to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB).
The board is an independent executive branch agency established in 2007 that regularly weighs in on two fronts: reviews of executive branch actions to protect the United States against terrorism and whether those actions are “balanced” with the need to protect privacy and civil liberties of U.S. citizens; and making sure that “liberty concerns are appropriately considered” in development of U.S. law, regulation, and policy related to anti-terrorism efforts.
The nominations approved are those of Adam Klein, who will serve as chairman of PCLOB, and Edward Felten and Jane Nitze, who will be members of the board.
Still awaiting Senate consideration of their nominations are Travis LeBlanc and Aditya Bamzai, who were nominated by President Trump in August.
The board has only one member currently, Elisebeth Collins.
Technology and privacy trade groups have been pushing the Senate to act on PCLOB nominations as the board has lacked a quorum for more than a year, and because of that has been unable to issue public reports and perform other essential functions.
In particular, PCLOB plays an important role in maintenance of the U.S.-European Union Privacy Shield Framework for transatlantic exchanges of personal data for commercial purposes, as the board is called upon to report on how U.S. intelligence agencies are handling bulk surveillance data.