USA Freedom Act Being Watered Down Even More… Getting Close To Useless
from the because-of-course dept
We were already disappointed that the USA Freedom Act — which was the original “pretty good” response to NSA surveillance — had been watered down in a manager’s amendment before being voted out of committee. The original bill already had some issues, but also did fix some of the worst issues of NSA surveillance. The manager’s amendment watered it down so that it was still better than nothing, but really not that great. And, of course, between passing out of both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, it appears that the bill (with tremendous pressure from the White House) is being gutted even further, such that the end result may be close to useless.
“Last stage negotiations” between members of the House and the Obama administration could significantly weaken provisions in the NSA bill, people familiar with the discussions say.
“Behind the scenes, there’s some nervousness,” one House aide said.
From what I’ve heard, that last line is an understatement. It goes beyond “some nervousness” to people recognizing that the bill has basically been stripped of nearly all important parts. As the article notes above, it appears that a casualty of the negotiations is the transparency provisions that would at least (finally) allow companies to be much more transparent about what information the FISA Court and the FBI/NSA are demanding they hand over. Taking that transparency out of the bill not only may re-raise First Amendment issues, but it also leaves a giant loophole for the NSA to continue to force companies to destroy our 4th Amendment rights, without anyone knowing about it, or being able to challenge it.
There are still a few things in the bill that would be useful, but the list is quickly dwindling, and by the time this whole process is over, the bill itself may be worse than useless.