Tag Archive: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act


A Floor, Not A Ceiling: Supporting The USA FREEDOM Act As A Step Towards Less Surveillance

 

 

” Over the last few weeks, we’ve been analyzing the USA FREEDOM Act1, a bipartisan bill authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI). If passed, this bill (also known as S. 1599) would be a substantial improvement to America’s laws regarding mass surveillance. It brings new levels of transparency to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (FISA court), introduces a special advocate to champion civil liberties in the FISA court, and appears to create new statutory limits on mass surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA). We are proud to support this bill and urge others to join us in working to ensure its passage. However, we consider this bill to be a floor, not a ceiling. “

EFF highlights the significant changes to current law in seven categories which we list below :

1) It would likely stop the NSA’s call records program. 2)The bill modifies Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.  3)The bill creates a special advocate in the FISA court. 4)Significant decisions” by the FISA court must be disclosed by the Attorney General. 5)It increases protections designed to limit the potential harm from the use of National Security Letters (NSLs). Nevertheless, NSLs would still be unconstitutional. 6)Transparency. 7)It grants subpoena powers for the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB).

 

 

   Each of these sections is explained in greater detail in the post and is well worth your time . The Electronic Frontier Foundation makes quite clear that this bill must be just a starting point in the battle to retrieve our 4th Amendment rights from the usurpers in the federal government , beginning with but not limited to , the NSA and their infamous snooping programs . 

 

 

” So while we are happy to support the USA FREEDOM Act, we also acknowledge that there is still much to do to dial back the NSA. This can happen through ongoing improvements to the USA FREEDOM Act as well as through additional bills.”

 

 

   The writer then proceeds to list numerous privacy/surveillance issues that the bill , in it’s present form , does NOT deal with and leaves the reader with the understanding that even if this bill is passed we still have a long way to go to stop the abuse of State and to return our government to it’s founding principles . This is what Sen Sensenbrenner’s web page has to say about H.R. 3361/ S. 1599 aka The USA FREEDOM Act

 

 

THE USA FREEDOM ACT

” Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act  
H.R. 3361/ S. 1599

Purpose:  To rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.  

End bulk collection of Americans’ communications records

• The USA Freedom Act ends bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.   • The bill would strengthen the prohibition on “reverse targeting” of Americans—that is, targeting a foreigner with the goal of obtaining communications involving an American.  • The bill requires the government to more aggressively filter and discard information about Americans accidentally collected through PRISM and related programs.

Reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

• The USA Freedom Act creates an Office of the Special Advocate (OSA) tasked with promoting privacy interests before the FISA court’s closed proceedings. The OSA will have the authority to appeal decisions of the FISA court.  • The bill creates new and more robust reporting requirements to ensure that Congress is aware of actions by the FISC and intelligence community as a whole. • The bill would grant the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight  Board subpoena authority to investigate issues related to privacy and national security.

Increase Transparency

• The USA Freedom Act would end secret laws by requiring the Attorney General to publicly disclose all FISC decisions issued after July 10, 2003 that contain a significant construction or interpretation of law.   • Under the bill, Internet and telecom companies would be allowed to publicly report an estimate of (1) the number of FISA orders and national security letters received, (2) the number of such orders and letters complied with, and (3) the number of users or accounts on whom information was demanded under the orders and letters.  • The bill would require the government to make annual or semiannual public reports estimating the total number of individuals and U.S. persons that were subject to FISA orders authorizing electronic surveillance, pen/trap devices, and access to business records. 

National Security Letters

• The USA Freedom Act adopts a single standard for Section 215 and NSL protection to ensure the Administration doesn’t use different authorities to support bulk collection.  It also adds a sunset date to NSLs requiring that Congress reauthorize the government’s authority thereby ensuring proper congressional review.”

 

 

 Senator Leahy’s webpage is here , and this is an editorial co-authored by Sen’s Leahy and Sensenbrenner and published in the Politico .

Here is the bill itself . It runs 118 pages . 

Here is the ACLU’s take on S.1599

Freedom Works offers their opinion

 

TechCrunch :                                      This is the Snowden Effect in legislative form.

” The bill is a solid first effort, but does not go far enough. We will likely see other bills of similar ilk. This specific bill is interesting given that one of its authors, Representative Sensenbrenner, played a key role in the creation of the Patriot Act, something that he is now trying to rein in.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Swisscom Builds ‘Swiss Cloud’ As Spying Storm Rages

 

 

(Reuters) – ” Swisscom is building a “Swiss Cloud” that could loosen the grip of U.S. technology giants and attract foreign companies looking for a way to shield sensitive data from the prying eyes of foreign intelligence services.

Companies are increasingly turning to cloud computing – an umbrella term for technology services such as email and business software offered remotely via the Internet instead of on-site – to cut costs and add flexibility to their IT departments.

But revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) secretly gathered user data from nine big U.S. tech companies including Google, Apple and Facebook has demonstrated that privacy for users of cloud services can be compromised, and some suggest customers could seek out alternatives to the dominant U.S. providers to try and protect sensitive information.

“Data protection and privacy is a long tradition in Switzerland, and that’s why it’s pretty difficult to get to something,” Koenig said.

Unlike in the United States, where the 2001 Patriot Act and the 2008 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISAA) gives U.S. intelligence agencies the power to carry out mass information gathering, Swisscom would have to receive a formal request from a prosecutor before allowing access to data.”

 

 

    Bring it on . Obama’s NSA is certainly uniting the world … not in a way that he intended , surely , but he can in fact take some credit for being the “uniter” that he claimed to be during his initial campaign … LOL

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple: iMessage And FaceTime Are Safe From The NSA’s Prying Eyes

 

 

” Here’s how to have a secret conversation the government can’t access: Just use iMessage, Apple’s text-messaging service that, the company now says, is encrypted and can’t be read by anyone except the sender and the recipients.

Apple has added its voice to a growing chorus of Silicon Valley companies calling on Washington for more transparency regarding its data-collection practices. In a statement released Monday, Apple disclosed new details about the requests for user information it fields from the government.

For the six months ending May 31, the company reported getting between 4,000 and 5,000 law-enforcement data requests, which altogether cover between 9,000 and 10,000 specific user accounts (“or devices,” Apple says). Some fraction of that number is made up of FISA warrants and national security letters, but it’s not clear how many or what the distribution looks like.

The firm also disclosed just what kind of data it does not make available to law enforcement—mainly, the end-to-end encrypted content Apple is unable to track, such as text and multimedia messages sent over Apple’s iMessage service, as well as video chats using FaceTime.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NSA Sucks In Data From 50 Companies

 

 

 

 

” Analysts at the National Security Agency can now secretly access real-time user data provided by as many as 50 American companies, ranging from credit rating agencies to internet service providers, two government officials familiar with the arrangements said.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that U.S. credit card companies had also provided customer information. The officials would not disclose the names of the companies because, they said, doing so would provide U.S. enemies with a list of companies to avoid. They declined to confirm the list of participants in an internet monitoring program revealed by the Washington Post and the Guardian, but both confirmed that the program existed.

The idea is to create a mosaic. We get a tip. We vet it. Then we mine the data for intelligence,” one of the officials said.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What the Senate Doesn’t Know About FISA

 

 

” Nancy Pelosi once said that we had to pass Obamacare to see what’s in it. Last week, Congress said we shouldn’t ask what’s in the federal surveillance law even after we’ve passed it.

That’s the most charitable way to interpret the Senate’s votes reauthorizing expiring provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) without any major changes or new checks and balances. The FISA amendments package of 2008 allows the kind of general warrants the Fourth Amendment was intended to prevent, giving the government a blank check for snooping on Americans.

It’s not so much that senators voted by lopsided margins to continue Bush-era warrantless wiretapping nearly five years into the age of hope and change (with the Obama administration’s blessing, of course). More surprising is their lack of interest in how many people are being spied on and how likely irrelevant data belonging to innocent citizens is to be ensnared in terrorism investigations.”

 

 

US Senate Approves FISA Warrantless Wiretapping Extension

 

 

 

 

” Washington - The Senate has voted to reauthorize a controversial amendment that allows US intelligence agencies to wiretap communications without warrants.

The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 was passed to allow the wiretapping of many US phone conversations and electronic communications and to grant retroactive immunity to Bush administration officials and telecom corporations for illegal wiretapping of domestic communications. FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, allows the NSA and other US intelligence agencies to wiretap conversations in which at least one of the parties is a foreign citizen without first obtaining a warrant. “

Despite Concerns By Fellow Democrats And Civil Libertarians, The Senator Says There’s Ample Oversight On Spying

Ample Oversight … Where have we heard that before ? Oh yeah . The Stimulus , Fannie Mae , Freddie Mac , Pigford , Gunwalker , Benghazi , Solyndra , need we go on ? Charlie Rangel , Maxine Waters , William Jefferson , Domestic Drones , TSA ?  Secret Service , GSA ?

” However, outgoing chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee Sen. Dianne Feinsten, D.-Calif., defended the surveillance practices permitted under FISA’s current provisions. “I don’t think there’s any program that has more vigorous oversight,” she said in response to Wyden Thursday. Feinstein said that in regards to stopping domestic terrorist attacks in recent years, the surveillance program “has worked,” noting that some of the 100 arrests made over the past four years to prevent attacks on U.S. soil have been made based on intelligence gleaned under FISA.

According to the Guardian, “National Security Agency whistleblower Bill Binney has estimated that the agency has ‘assembled’ 20 trillion transactions between U.S. citizens.”

As Wyden put it Thursday, I think, when you talk about oversight, and you can’t even get a rough estimate of how many law-abiding Americans had their communications swept up by this law … the idea of robust oversight, really ought to be called toothless oversight if you don’t have that kind of information.”

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