” Over the last few weeks, we’ve been analyzing the USA FREEDOM Act, 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
” 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.
• 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.”