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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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  • "Freedom Act" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [hmryobemag]> on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:34AM (#46948061) Journal

    Holy hell look at that name...this bill must be full of draconian nightmare laws!

  • Re:Two things... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NotDrWho (3543773) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:40AM (#46948101)

    I would add:

    3) It doesn't fucking matter what they pass anyway, since neither Congress nor the President has any real oversight of the CIA or NSA, or any way of knowing if they're breaking the law or stopping them if they are.

  • by jonwil (467024) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:41AM (#46948107)

    The only way to stop this mess is to completly outlaw ANY logging or surveillance by ANY agency (FBI, CIA, NSA, DEA, Homeland Security or whoever else) or by ANY private company on behalf of the government except where the surveillance or logging is being done on a specific identifiable entity (e.g. a Facebook account or a Google account or an ISP account or a cellphone number/account or whatever) AND a judge has granted a warrant.

    Even the worst possible hypothetical attack (e.g. a terrorist with a nuclear bomb powerful enough to turn the entire eastern seaboard into a smoking crater) is not bad enough to justify any kind of monitoring, surveillance or logging of the communications of people who have not been classified as a threat by an independent judge.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:42AM (#46948113)

    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.

    This is the "weaker" version? This basically is a bill with no limits.

    Two hops? That just means if you ever called the phone company, a utility, UPS/Fedex etc then they can "hop" to you. It's no real limitation at all. It also means that they can just declare something an emergency whenever they want. No real oversight. No advocate for the citizenry.

  • Re:Two things... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Andrewkov (140579) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:50AM (#46948165)

    We are in a constant state of emergency due to the war on terror.

  • Re:Two things... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NotDrWho (3543773) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:50AM (#46948167)

    The whole "emergency" thing is just an excuse that exploits the widespread belief that the CIA/NSA frequently face scenarios where the clock is ticking and Jack Bauer/James Bond MUST get someone's phone data RIGHT NOW or PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DIE IN 20 MINUTES!!!! The fact that such scenarios almost never occur in real life is irrelevant, since the public doesn't know that.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:54AM (#46948197)

    since neither Congress nor the President has any real oversight of the CIA or NSA

    I think the President has a very good idea what the NSA is up to since the reports they generate ultimately come to him and his direct reports. I'm pretty sure the Congressional leadership also has a fairly good idea what is going on. However I do not think their interests align with those of the citizenry and so they have little to no incentive to exercise what you or I would consider proper oversight. They benefit from the violation of our civil rights.

  • Re:Two things... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:18AM (#46948351)

    The problem is that generally voters HATE congress, but LOVE their congressman.

  • Re:Two things... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by erikkemperman (252014) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:49AM (#46948597)

    Precisely. In fact, blame Hollywood at least as much as Washington. There's way more fictional terrorists and serial killers and so on than real ones. And they need the public to be much more afraid than is actually warranted, or they might push back against some of this madness.

    I reserve a dedicated level of contempt especially for their fusion: the military-entertainment complex. Pentagon sponsoring series and films -- with strings attached of course so effectively outsourced propaganda -- has a much broader effect than just those productions. Companies might keep their content government-friendly for fear of missing out on future projects' funding.

    Fear is the mind killer.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:33AM (#46948993) Journal

    I'm sure people whisper in their ears, "Ya know, if there's a terrorist attack and the biggest thiing you and your party did recently was make it harder for the NSA, well, what will the voters think?"

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