Posts Tagged ‘FISA’

After the House watered it down, Sen. Leahy introduces a new US FREEDOM Act.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 7:55 am by

Yesterday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced legislation that would restore Americans’ privacy rights by ending the government’s dragnet collection of phone records and requiring greater oversight, transparency, and accountability with respect to domestic surveillance authorities.

freedom act

The updated version of the USA FREEDOM Act released yesterday builds on legislation passed in the House in May, as well as the original legislation Leahy introduced with Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) last October. The legislation bans bulk collection under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and other surveillance authorities, requires the government to narrow the scope of a search to a clearly defined “specific selection term,” adds needed transparency and reporting requirements, and provides key reforms to the FISA Court. In an editorial on Monday, the New York Times wrote “the bill represents a breakthrough in the struggle against the growth of government surveillance power.”

Leahy noted the legislation provides significant reforms of surveillance authorities, while carefully maintaining the role of law enforcement and intelligence agencies and their responsibility to protect national security.

In his floor statement, Leahy said:

“If enacted, this bill would represent the most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act 13 years ago,” Leahy said in a floor statement.  This is an historic opportunity, and I am grateful that the bill has the support of the administration, a wide range of privacy and civil liberties groups, and the technology industry.”

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“The fault line is shifting”

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 5:12 pm by

Earlier this week, BORDC’s Shahid Buttar appeared on The Big Picture with host Thom Hartmann to explain what he described as a “game changer” on congressional NSA reform, and to relate how members of Congress found “an alternative outlet for their outrage” about NSA spying.

Shahid explained that:

The last thing that had happened in Congress was a very meager version of the USA Freedom Act passing the House, and that could ultimately [do] more harm than good. The amendments to the House Defense Appropriations bill last week…reflected essentially a response by members of Congress who were frustrated by the White House and the Republican leadership of the House gutting the USA Freedom Act, and finding an alternative outlet for their outrage….

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House moves to rein in NSA Internet surveillance

Friday, June 20, 2014 at 11:13 am by

A year after whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed pervasive dragnet spying by the National Security Agency, Congress has finally begun to take action. Last night, the House “unexpectedly and overwhelmingly” voted in favor of a measure imposing two major limits on the NSA’s domestic dragnet.

By a wide and revealing margin, 293 Representatives came together across party lines to approve an amendment to a military spending bill that — if ultimately signed into law after agreement in the Senate – could deny funding to two particular NSA abuses.

First, the amendment aims to effectively prohibit NSA queries taking advantage of a “backdoor search loophole” (in which the NSA collects information about Americans by designating a foreigner with whom they communicate as the ”target” of their search). It would also prohibit the NSA from building security vulnerabilities into tech products made in the US, as it has for “computers, hard drives, routers, and other devices from companies such as Cisco, Dell, Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor, Samsung and Huawei.”

Members of Congress from both major parties expressed the widespread popular outrage underlying the vote. According to a joint statement by Representatives Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Lofgren (D-CA), and Massie (R-KY), “Americans have become increasingly alarmed with the breadth of unwarranted government surveillance programs.” Rep. Massie also put it more colorfully, explaining that ”The American people are sick of being spied on,” evoking the words of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who sharply criticized “this dragnet spying on millions of Americans.”

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A Deep Dive into the House’s Version of Narrow NSA Reform: The New USA Freedom Act

Monday, May 19, 2014 at 9:33 am by

This post was originally published by Mark Jaycox at EFF’s Deeplinks blog on May 18, 2014 and is shared with permission.

NSA reform is finally moving in Congress. Last year, Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the USA Freedom Act, one of the first comprehensive bills to address multiple aspects of the NSA’s spying. The Senate version has languished since October, but last week the House Judiciary Committee (chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte) introduced and passed out of committee a heavily rewritten House version. As a result, two versions of the USA Freedom Act exist: the narrowed House version and the more encompassing Senate version. The movement in the House is a good indication that Congress is still engaged with NSA reform, but the House’s bill must be strengthened and clarified to ensure that it accomplishes one of its main intentions: ending mass collection.

Here’s how the House version of the USA Freedom Act compares to the Senate’s version, what the new House version of the USA Freedom Act does, and what it sorely lacks.

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BORDC News Digest for 03/26/14

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 at 5:39 pm by

Current News 

3/26, Reuters, The Guardian, Fisa court names Thomas Hogan as new presiding judge

3/26, Nina Totenberg, NPR, Protesters Want To Sue Secret Service: Do They Have The Right?

3/26, Martha Mendoza, StarTribune, Intelligence disclosures show vulnerabilities in US privacy rights

3/25, Calvin Sneed, Channel 9 NewsPolice for Profit: Confusion about the Law?

3/25, Bradley Klapper, The Kansas City Star, Senators to vote next week on torture report

3/25, Jameel Jaffer, The Guardian, The House’s NSA bill could allow more spying than ever. You call this reform?

3/24, Business Standard, ANIFormer US President Jimmy Carter criticizes drone use, NSA surveillance program

NSA surveillance violates attorney-client privilege

Monday, February 10, 2014 at 9:00 am by
nsa_headquarters_ap_img_0

The NSA campus in Fort Meade, Maryland. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In a recent Nation article, Nicholas Niarchos tells the story of Ron Kuby, a lawyer who was representing a man charged with providing material support to the plotters of the foiled 2009 New York subway bombing. Kuby was summoned to a Joint Terrorism Task Force office in New York City and led to a conference room where, accompanied by law enforcement agents, he listened to recordings of three conversations between him and his client. Apparently, when the client called Kuby for legal advice, the government had been listening in.

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One small step for privacy, one giant leap against surveillance

Monday, December 23, 2013 at 8:45 am by

Original commentary by Steven Rosenfeld and published to Alternet on Decemer 17, 2013.

Pundits across the political left should be careful about heaping too much praise on U.S. District Judge Richard Leon for this week’s dramatic ruling that the National Security Agency’s electronic dragnet capturing Americans’ online activities is “significantly likely” to be unconstitutional, even though it is a powerful rebuke to America’s spymasters.

That’s because Leon, a longtime Republican  warrior, is as much of a legal loudmouth and rightwing activist judge as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. More importantly, his elbows-out 68-page  opinion is not going to be the last word on the government’s data mining. Leon’s ruling is one of several NSA-related suits moving through the federal courts, including rulings that have reached the opposite conclusion.

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News Digest 11/18/13

Monday, November 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm by

Current News 

11/18, Yamiche Alcindor, USA Today, NSA grapples with huge increase in records requests

11/16, Brendan Sasso, The Hill, Supreme Court weighs NSA challenge

11/15, Matthew Weaver, The Guardian, NSA files: New York Times defends the Guardian’s Snowden leaks

11/15, Marjorie Cohn, Huffington Post, Voices From the Drone Summit

11/15, Editorial, Washington Post, Jeremy Hammond, hacker for Anonymous, sentenced to 10 years

11/15, Sari Horwitz, Washington Post, Justice is reviewing criminal cases that used surveillance evidence gathered under FISA

News Digest for 11/15/13

Friday, November 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm by

Current News 

11/15, Chris Strohm, Bloomberg News, Silicon Valley Nerds Seek Revenge on NSA Spies With Coding

11/14, Center for Investigative Reporting, UT San Diego, Reddit chat: Losing the ‘surveillance war’

11/14, Michael Tarm, ABC News, Ex-FBI Agent Pleads Guilty to Being AP Source

11/14, Fabien Tepper, Christian Science Monitor, Google transparency report curiously opaque, thanks to FBI gag order

11/14, Laura Ryan, National Journal, Google: Government Information Requests More Than Double Since 2010

1968 in 2013: Democrats vs. themselves (Part II)

Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 10:05 am by

The first installment in this series explained how, as the left vs. right schism grows eclipsed by establishment vs. populist tension, Democrats risk getting left holding the bag of the national security state. This post explores the dangerous consequences that could pose for progressivism.

As the NSA spying scandal has progressed, congressional Democrats have grown co-opted by an Obama administration committed to defending, entrenching, and perpetuating the Bush administration’s legacy—despite the president’s campaign promises in 2008 to reverse it. This co-optation spells grave threats not only to partisan Democrats, but also to principled progressives attached to an ideology inadvertently weakened by partisan Democrats aligned with the president.

Rallying around President Obama…to shoot themselves in the feet

In August 2013, during the debate on the House defense appropriations bill, only 7 votes protected the NSA from debilitating budget cuts that would have ended its domestic bulk collection activities. Seven members of Congress could have changed the outcome of the vote, reflecting a razor thin (under 2%) margin of victory for the surveillance state.

That margin of victory could be explained in many ways. One explanation may surprise progressives: Democrats from the Bay Area and Chicago, representing safe blue seats, who were outspoken about surveillance abuses at one point, comprised the NSA’s entire margin of victory. They chose to resign their principles, oaths of office, and constituents’ concerns in order to support their partisan patron, the president. They’re carrying the Bush administration’s water because it’s now President Obama holding the glass.

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