Congressional Research Service Reports - Browse

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Travel Restrictions: U.S. Government Limits on American Citizens' Travel Abroad
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The Property Rights Issue
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Congressional Authority to Regulate Firearms: A Legal Overview
Courts have been confronted with the question of whether federal laws can be applied to intrastate possession and intrastate transfers of firearms, or whether such application exceeds the authority of Congress. This report explores these cases and how courts have analyzed these as-applied challenges under the Supreme Court's Commerce Clause jurisprudence primarily set forth in United States v. Lopez.
Privacy Law and Online Advertising
This report will examine the application of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Communications Act to online behavioral advertising in more detail. It is likely that in many cases these laws could be held to apply to such activities and that these methods of data collection would be forbidden unless consent is obtained from one of the parties to the communication.
Law Enforcement Use of Global Positioning (GPS) Devices to Monitor Motor Vehicles: Fourth Amendment Considerations
This report discusses the basics of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, society's reliance on it, and some of the related legal and privacy implications. In addition, the report examines legislative and judicial responses on both federal and state levels.
Privacy Law and Online Advertising: Legal Analysis of Data Gathering By Online Advertisers Such As Double Click and NebuAd
This report discusses privacy issues arising from so called "e-havioral" advertising. This individual behavioral targeting has raised a number of privacy concerns.
Congress and U.S. Policy on North Korean Human Rights and Refugees: Recent Legislation and Implementation
This report discusses U.S. policy and legislation in response to Pyongyang's human rights record. North Korea's systematic violation of its citizens' human rights and the plight of North Koreans trying to escape their country have been well documented in multiple reports issued by governments and other international bodies.
Public Employees' Right to Privacy in Their Electronic Communications: City of Ontario v. Quon in the Supreme Court
This report discusses public employees' right to privacy in their electronic communications, the supreme court case City of Ontario v. Quon.
Preventing Gun Violence While Protecting Gun Rights: CRS Experts
This report provides a table with names and contact information of CRS experts on policy issues related to preventing gun violence while protecting gun violence.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Terrorism Investigations
This report provides background information on key elements of the FBI terrorism investigative process, based on publicly available information. This report sets forth possible considerations for Congress as it executes its oversight role, including the extent to which intelligence has been integrated into FBI operations to support its counterterrorism mission and the progress the Bureau has made on its intelligence reform initiatives.
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board: New Independent Agency Status
This report examines initial responses to the 9/11 Commission's call for a board to oversee adherence to presidential guidelines on information sharing that safeguard the privacy of individuals about whom information is shared, and the implementation of this board.
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board: New Independent Agency Status
This report examines initial responses to the 9/11 Commission's call for a board to oversee adherence to presidential guidelines on information sharing that safeguard the privacy of individuals about whom information is shared, and the implementation of this board.
Search and Seizure Cases in the October 2012 Term of the Supreme Court
Report that looks at three search and seizure cases heard during its October 2012 term.
Legal Analysis of Religious Exemptions for Photo Identification Requirements
This report analyzes the legal issues associated with religious exemptions to photo identification laws. Although no lawsuits appear to have challenged federal laws with photo requirements, state photo identification laws have been challenged for several decades.
Federal Habeas Corpus: An Abridged Sketch
This report discusses federal habeas corpus, which is a procedure under which a federal court may review the legality of an individual’s incarceration. It is most often invoked after conviction and the exhaustion of the ordinary means of appeal. It is at once the last refuge of scoundrels and the last hope of the innocent. It is an intricate weave of statute and case law whose reach has flowed and ebbed over time.
Federal Habeas Corpus: A Brief Legal Overview
This report discusses Federal habeas corpus, which is a procedure under which a federal court may review the legality of an individual’s incarceration. It is most often the stage of the criminal appellate process that follows direct appeal and any available state collateral review.
Federal Habeas Corpus Relief: Background, Legislation, and Issues
This report examines the issues surrounding the debate on whether to further restrict state prisoners’ access to federal habeas corpus filings. This report does not discuss issues related to federalism and the proper role of the federal court system in overseeing the actions of state courts pertaining to prisoners’ constitutional rights. The report opens with a discussion of a commission that was established in 1988 to study and make recommendations of the then-current federal habeas corpus system and the 1996 law that restricted prisoners’ access to federal habeas corpus relief. It then provides an analysis of federal habeas corpus petition data since 1990. The report examines whether the number of federal habeas corpus petitions and the time it takes for the federal court system to process these claims have increased since the enactment of the the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). It then discusses legislation introduced in the 109th Congress that would further restrict state prisoners’ access to federal habeas corpus relief. The report concludes with an analysis of two dominant issues that are at the center of this debate: delays caused by habeas corpus petitions and post-conviction representation.
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board: New Independent Agency Status
Recommended by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission), the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) was initially established as an agency within the Executive Office of the President (EOP) in 2004. Critics, however, maintained that the board appeared to be a presidential appendage, devoid of the capability to exercise independent judgment and assessment or to provide impartial findings and recommendations. This viewpoint gained acceptance in the 110th Congress when the PCLOB was reconstituted as an independent agency within the executive branch by the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act (IR9/11CA), signed into law on August 6, 2007. On January 5, 2011, President Obama nominated two people to serve on the board, but the Senate has not confirmed either. This report will be updated as events warrant.
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board: New Independent Agency Status
This report examines initial responses to the 9/11 Commission's call for a board to oversee adherence to presidential guidelines on information sharing that safeguard the privacy of individuals about whom information is shared, and the implementation of this board.
Interrogation of Detainees: Overview of the McCain Amendment
Controversy has arisen regarding U.S. treatment of enemy combatants and terrorist suspects detained in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations, and whether such treatment complies with U.S. statutes and treaties such as the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Congress approved additional guidelines concerning the treatment of detainees via the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), which was enacted pursuant to both the Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pandemic Influenza Act, 2006 (P.L. 109-148), and the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2006 (P.L. 109-163). Among other things, the DTA contains provisions that (1) require Department of Defense (DOD) personnel to employ United States Army Field Manual guidelines while interrogating detainees, and (2) prohibit the “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment of persons under the detention, custody, or control of the United States Government.” These provisions of the DTA, which were first introduced by Senator John McCain, have popularly been referred to as the “McCain Amendment.” This report discusses the McCain Amendment, as modified and subsequently enacted into law.
Interrogation of Detainees: Overview of the McCain Amendment
Controversy has arisen regarding U.S. treatment of enemy combatants and terrorist suspects detained in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations, and whether such treatment complies with U.S. statutes and treaties such as the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Congress approved additional guidelines concerning the treatment of detainees via the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), which was enacted pursuant to both the Department of Defense, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations to Address Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, and Pandemic Influenza Act, 2006 (P.L. 109-148), and the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2006 (P.L. 109-163). Among other things, the DTA contains provisions that (1) require Department of Defense (DOD) personnel to employ United States Army Field Manual guidelines while interrogating detainees, and (2) prohibit the “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment of persons under the detention, custody, or control of the United States Government.” These provisions of the DTA, which were first introduced by Senator John McCain, have popularly been referred to as the “McCain Amendment.” This report discusses the McCain Amendment, as modified and subsequently enacted into law.
Interrogation of Detainees: Overview of the McCain Amendment
This report discusses the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), which contains provisions that (1) require Department of Defense (DOD) personnel to employ United States Army Field Manual guidelines while interrogating detainees, and (2) prohibit the “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment of persons under the detention, custody, or control of the United States Government.” These provisions of the DTA, which were first introduced by Senator John McCain, have popularly been referred to as the “McCain amendment.” This report discusses the McCain amendment, as modified and subsequently enacted into law. This report also discusses the application of the McCain amendment by the DOD in the updated 2006 version of the Army Field Manual, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.
Tying Up Loose Ends... Supreme Court To Evaluate Federal Firearm Provision Again
This legal sidebar discusses certiorari to hear Voisine v. United States, a decision examining the federal provision that makes it unlawful for an individual to possess a firearm or ammunition if he or she has been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence (MCDV).
9/11 Commission Recommendations: A Civil Liberties Oversight Board
This report discusses the recommendation made by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) regarding the creation of a board within the executive branch to oversee adherence to guidelines on, and the commitment to defend, civil liberties by the federal government.
Summary of the Proposed Rule for the Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information
This report provides a summary of the proposed rule issued November 3, 1999 to protect the privacy of individually identifiable health information.
United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR): U.S. Membership
This short report provides an overview of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR and Administration and Congressional responses to recent developments.
The United Nations Human Rights Council: Issues for Congress
This report provides historical background of the Council, including the role of the previous Commission. It discusses the Council's current mandate and structure, as well as U.S. policy and congressional actions.
Citizen Control Over Records Held by Third Parties
The United States has become an information society. Government at every level and private industry have been collecting and using more personal information about individuals in the last several years than ever before. The Congress has been aware of this trend, and of the potencia1 for misuse of the information so collected; it has enacted several laws that protect the personal privacy of individuals, and respect the confidentiality of the information maintained about individuals by third parties. In this report, several privacy laws are summarized, and key provisions of each are compared, in order to make individual citizens aware of their rights , responsibilities and remedies under the law.
Critical Infrastructure Information Disclosure and Homeland Security
This report discusses the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that was passed to ensure by statute citizen access to government information. Nine categories of information may be exempted from disclosure. Three of the nine exemptions provide possible protection against the release of critical infrastructure information: exemption 1 (national security information); exemption 3 (information exempted by statute); and exemption 4 (confidential business information). Congress has considered several proposals to exempt critical infrastructure information from the FOIA.
Critical Infrastructure Information Disclosure and Homeland Security
This report discusses the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that was passed to ensure by statute citizen access to government information. Nine categories of information may be exempted from disclosure. Three of the nine exemptions provide possible protection against the release of critical infrastructure information: exemption 1 (national security information); exemption 3 (information exempted by statute); and exemption 4 (confidential business information). Congress has considered several proposals to exempt critical infrastructure information from the FOIA.
Data Security Breaches: Context and Incident Summaries
Personal data security breaches are being reported with increasing regularity. Within the last few years, numerous examples of data such as Social Security numbers, bank account, credit card, driver’s license numbers, and medical and student records have been compromised. A major reason for the increased awareness of these security breaches is a California law that requires notice of security breaches to the affected individuals. This law, implemented in July 2003, was the first of its kind in the nation.
Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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Internet Privacy: Overview and Pending Legislation
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