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ACLU and EFF Endorse Weaker USA Freedom Act Passed By Committee 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the dialing-it-back dept.
First time accepted submitter sumakor (3571543) writes "The House Judiciary Committee has advanced a weakened version of the USA Freedom Act (HR3361). The amended compromise version allows collection of phone call records up to two hops away from a target, potentially including millions of customer records, and allows for collection without a judge's order in emergency cases. The amended bill also drops the requirement for a privacy advocate who can appeal the rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and extends the controversial Section 215 of the Patriot Act from 2015 through 2017.

Despite these significant changes the amended bill has been endorsed by the ACLU and the EFF as a first step and the most promising path towards reigning in government surveillance. The two organizations called for further Congressional measures to tighten control of surveillance authorities including an explicit definition of the term 'selector,' a reduction in the number of hops from 2 to 1 under most circumstances and the closing the loophole that allows searches of Americans' data inadvertently collected thru Section 702.

The bill now proceeds to the House Intelligence Committee, who has advanced its competing bill, the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act (HR 4291). The committee will mark up both bills on the same day, beginning at 10am Thursday, behind closed doors."
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ACLU and EFF Endorse Weaker USA Freedom Act Passed By Committee

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  • Two things... (Score:5, Informative)

    by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @07:11AM (#46947943)

    1) This bill basically changes nothing - they can do whatever they want by declaring an "emergency", and there is no effective oversight.

    2) "Reining in", NOT "reigning in". The expression refers to slowing horses down, not kings at home.

  • More Doublespeak (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2014 @07:32AM (#46948045)

    Please note that the Orwellian title of this bill, as opposed to what is really in it.

  • by Chas (5144) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:05AM (#46948265) Homepage Journal

    Take whatever the fuck they want.

    They can basically operate however they want until someone snitches on them.

    At that point, there's a big kerfuffle in DC as people dive out of the line of fire. Then...nothing.

    Shortly afterwards, the informant is renditioned or flees and is declared an enemy of the state.

  • Dear Congress, (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trailer Trash (60756) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:39AM (#46948493) Homepage

    Unless you provide criminal penalties for those who would break this law, don't bother. You know what I mean - you do this for *every* other prohibitive law which doesn't target government, but always seem to forget that part when you're trying to reign in government.

    While you're at it, make a breach of this law also be a civil cause of action.

    Seriously.

    Otherwise, don't bother. If there's no penalties for breaking this law, it'll be ignored like all the rest of them.

  • by bigpat (158134) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:12AM (#46949461)

    "extends the controversial Section 215 of the Patriot Act from 2015 through 2017."

    Section 215 is the provision which they have interpreted to mean every and all records collected by a business... server logs, router logs, email logs, credit card transactions, cable tv viewing data, car transponder data, car location data (as now collected by private companies and bought by the police), bank records, facebook friends lists, pictures you upload, library records etc etc etc. Basically everything that any company you do business with or knows about you could possibly think of putting in a database.

    Putting a 2 hop limitation on phone records misses 99.9% of the types of records government surveillance will be interested in collecting and aggregating moving forward. Might as well put a telegraph limitation in there or a horse and buggy surveillance limitation and call it "restraint".

  • by bigpat (158134) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:36AM (#46949727)

    The real problem is section 215 or anything like it. Which is what the government has been using to confiscate all sorts of records that companies that you do business with might keep. Limiting just phone calls misses 99.9999% of what the government might want to collect moving forward.

    Section 215 is the provision which they have interpreted to mean every and all records collected by a business... server logs, router logs, email logs, credit card transactions, cable tv viewing data, car transponder data, car location data (as now collected by private companies and bought by the police), bank records, facebook friends lists, pictures you upload, library records etc etc etc. Basically everything that any company you do business with or knows about you could possibly think of putting in a database.

    So on the face of this Congress really needs to enumerate the things that can be collected instead of leaving in a provision that seems to allow them to collect everything and then only restrict one particularly type of record

    Maybe the ACLU and EFF are just trying to make a career out of this law. Because in another couple years we are going to hear about how they are collecting another type of data under section 215 and then the ACLU and EFF are going to be up in arms over it and fundraising to stop it. Guys, just hold the line and oppose section 215 or any insidious replacement of it. You can still support the two-hop limitation, but oppose the bill.

One possible reason that things aren't going according to plan is that there never was a plan in the first place.

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