Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
United States Electronic Frontier Foundation Privacy Security Your Rights Online

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

ACLU and EFF Endorse Weaker USA Freedom Act Passed By Committee

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

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

    • 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 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

          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?"

        • What do you consider congressional oversight? When the NSA Director tells congress an outright lie and faces no repercussions whatsoever, I would say that "congressional oversight" is pretty much a farce.

          • by sjbe (173966)

            What do you consider congressional oversight?

            I didn't say they were exerting oversight. I said that they probably have a good idea what is going. Much of their reporting to Congress is behind closed doors so you and I have no idea what they are actually talking about. But if the Congressional leadership was not kept in the loop to some extent you can bet they would be making a big political stink about it. The Republican leadership in the House would make claims that Obama was turning the country into a police state.

            Knowing what the NSA is up do a

    • Sadly your 1) is correct. If they tried to introduce this today as a new idea, the people would never have it. Allowing an easy bypass (not even a loophole yet to be exploited) to anything guarantees that it will become the norm and not the exception it was intended to be. We already have examples such as the NSA denial of FOIA requests simply because what they have (or don't have) on you /could/ be useful to someone or anyone with the slightest of misguided thoughts.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      In that case, I would say that "reigning in" is perfectly valid.

      Or do you honestly think our so-called "representatives" do not think of themselves as royalty?
    • by bigpat (158134) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @11:36AM (#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.

  • More Doublespeak (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

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

    • And the whole "War on Terror", noticeably. The people are in a constant state of "fear", which the government uses to control the populace.
  • "Freedom Act" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:34AM (#46948061) Journal

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

    • by NotDrWho (3543773) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:57AM (#46948223)

      I've always said that when the bill to re-institute slavery comes, it will be called the "Full Employment and Housing for Minorities Act."

      • by Hillgiant (916436) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:10AM (#46948759)

        Finally a jobs bill that republicans can get behind.

        • Interestingly enough, it was the Republicans who freed the slaves...or did you think Lincoln was a Democrat?
          • by Hillgiant (916436)

            Yes. I have often wished I could vote for the Republican Party of the 1860's. Sadly, the economic wing of the party was all to eager to jump into the pockets of the robber barons; and the social wing ran right off the deep end with their pivot from abolition to prohibition.

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @10:24AM (#46948885)

        Slavery? Are you fucking nuts? You have to house and feed slaves, did you look recently at the housing cost in most areas? Wages are way cheaper!

      • I've always said that when the bill to re-institute slavery comes, it will be called the "Full Employment and Housing for Minorities Act."

        But first will be the "Women's Total Control Over Their Own Bodies Act", right after Roberts/Scalia/Thomas overturn Roe v. Wade, which at their present rate of terrorism, will be within the year.

    • by Rigel47 (2991727)
      It really is stunning how the asses in Congress will name a surveillance law "Freedom Act"
    • Yeah, you can tell what the bill does by the title: it's generally the opposite.

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

      Bingo. We name our laws using the same methods that communists use to name their totalitarian hell-holes.

    • "Freedom Act", well you know free to do what we want.
    • My first thought was "If Orwell was alive, he'd probably complain that he wants royalties, that name of the law sounds like it's straight from 1984".

    • Freedom from oversight...
  • 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 Tokolosh (1256448)

      I think it's called the Constitution.

      Except SCOTUS is MIA. When the justices are seen bloviating on the news networks, you know it's game over for us.

  • This is legislation designed to limit surveillance, data collection, and data storage beyond what is presently allowed.

    Though it sounds like a step in the right direction, for it's implementation to have any real teeth, the agencies it deigns to rein in would have to be rules-followers.

    Observable evidence seems to run contrary to this conclusion.

    • by anagama (611277)

      This legislation is a way to legitimize the ongoing illegal activity. It implicitly suggests that what was going on before was legal and now is being scaled back. This is worse than nothing -- it is a victory for the NSA, plus it's such weak tea, it's a double victory for those assholes.

  • 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.

    • This is the "weaker" version?

      That's what I was wondering. The article makes this sound like the "strengthened" version, what with it dropping the privacy advocate.

      But perhaps the original version wanted six-hop call tracking...

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Its one more step to a new domestic parallel construction becoming legal.
      Telcos get retroactive immunity.
      2 hops with no real court support is now not illegal.
      A lot of color of law to out pace the Fourth Amendment.
      Thats the fun legal aspect to been to told to think back to some 'event' and watch your laws get altered.
      With every generation of legal staff seeing or been told about emergency cases, all protections are reduced for decades until the next emergency.
      The laws still stand just some cases will n
  • Long may it reign.
  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @08:57AM (#46948221)

    This bill sucks... and I wondered "Why would the ACLU support this?" But when you really think about it, if your neighbor had a vicious attack dog and you wanted him to take it to the pound, and he came to you and said "Well, I got this $4 leash and tied him to a tree..." are you going to say "Absolutely not!" No, you're going to thank him, wait a few days and then continue to pester him to get rid of the dog. Some restraint is better than none. I suspect the NSA will completely ignore this legislation and the ACLU will use it as legal leverage to file lawsuits and try to reveal more evidence of what they're up to.

  • by Chas (5144) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:05AM (#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.

  • The perfect solution fallacy is an informal fallacy that occurs when an argument assumes that a perfect solution exists and/or that a solution should be rejected because some part of the problem would still exist after it were implemented. This is an example of black and white thinking, in which a person fails to see the complex interplay between multiple component elements of a situation or problem, and as a result, reduces complex problems to a pair of binary extremes.

    It is common for arguments which comm

    • So what you are saying is that the American population should be happy they are being bent over and raped in the ass with a 10" dick because they could be getting raped with a 14" dick. If you don't want to be fucked in the ass it doesn't matter if it is a 10" or 14" dick you are stilling being ass raped.

      The simple truth is that this bill supports the invasion of privacy under the guise of keeping America safe, it doesn't matter how complicated it is, privacy is being invaded.
      • by EmagGeek (574360)

        No, that is not what I am saying at all.

        • No, that is not what I am saying at all.

          What you said

          The perfect solution fallacy is an informal fallacy that occurs when an argument assumes that a perfect solution exists and/or that a solution should be rejected because some part of the problem would still exist after it were implemented. This is an example of black and white thinking, in which a person fails to see the complex interplay between multiple component elements of a situation or problem, and as a result, reduces complex problems to a pair of binary extremes.

          People don't like this law because of the two hop rule (ass rape with 10" dick) without a judges order or any oversight. There doesn't need to be a perfect solution just stop ass raping, one hop with a judges order and require a privacy advocate that can represent the people and appeal rulings. It doesn't matter that the raping dick is 30% smaller the problem is the raping.

      • If you don't want to be fucked in the ass it doesn't matter if it is a 10" or 14" dick you are stilling being ass raped.

        As my gay friend, Dennis, said, "Oh, trust me, it makes a big difference. You wouldn't believe the difference..."

    • Leaving section 215 in place without limitation means that the government can still order companies to hand over all their records. According to this report the only limitation now is going to be this two hop restriction on phone records which is likely to be narrowly construed to mean just phone calls and not text messages or location data or credit card transaction records or server logs or router logs or facebook friends lists or pictures you have uploaded, or files you store in the cloud, etc etc.

      Call

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:20AM (#46948369) Journal

    ...if they aggressively pursued all Bill of Rights violations by the government, not just those of the Constitutional Rights that they particularly happen to agree with.

    • If you mean the second amendment, there is the NRA for that, though the NRA does a rather poor job of defending it. But that's the organization with most of the resources.

      The ACLU seems to get a lot of flak from authoritarians (though in this case I do wish their interpretation of the second amendment were different), but they do some good work.

      • The NRA has roughly 10 times the funding that the ACLU does, last I knew. The second amendment doesn't need the help of the ACLU with the NRA around.

    • Yeah, when was the last time they took up a case about quartering troops in people's houses or made damn sure that suits at common law for $20 would be tried by juries? Oh, wait, you probably mean the second amendment. The one that already has the NRA standing up for it with twice the total budget of the ACLU. But if it makes you feel better, the ACLU has actually defended gun owners before: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04... [nytimes.com]
    • by imikem (767509)

      It would sure be nice to take a few giant whacks at the grotesque manipulation of the interstate commerce clause to allow virtually anything to be federally regulated and mandated. Might need a few $BILLIONS to manage that though.

  • Dear Congress, (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trailer Trash (60756) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @09:39AM (#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.

  • I hereby request all CostCo, Amazon, and my local power and water utility company customers to please abstain from ever being suspected of anything.

    If you're not sure whether or not you might be suspected of a crime, perhaps a good rule of thumb is that you should try to stay two hops away from any actual criminals. So if you're a Bank of America customer, yes, that means I'm asking you to not use my local power utility.

    Thank you for your cooperation.

    NO, WAIT! NO!!! No, I didn't mean to imply I'm cooperat

  • by bigpat (158134) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @11:12AM (#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 Iamthecheese (1264298) on Thursday May 08, 2014 @12:14PM (#46950185)
    Even the average anesthetized American brain can see the irony in these names. Soon we shall have a ministry of love.
  • And the EFF and ACLU approve?? Very sad. That the voters approve is sadder still.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken

Working...