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.

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Comments on “USA Freedom Act Being Watered Down Even More… Getting Close To Useless”

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Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:

We complain about the NSA and the govt. because they’re destroying the Constitution, so you’re complaining about the Constitution because they gave us govt. and therefore the NSA. Okay…

…gun rights enthusiast, much?

You know the Second Amendment?

It’s on the Bill of Rights, which is part of the Constitution.

You have no rights at all without it. Natural rights don’t stand up in a court of law, that’s why we all refer to the Constitution. Don’t knock it.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Title is the Irony

Isn’t it ironic that we have something called the USA Freedom Act, for the USA, and even that can’t be put into place as is? When the “Land of the Free” becomes a country in which we’re seeing the need for bills like this across the board it makes you wonder, doesn’t it? All these changes “we the people” want to see put in place yet at every turn they’re getting countered, shut down, or otherwise “neutered” in the governmental / political arena. Its not that the USA is a bad place to live in, we have freedoms that many others dream of, but its become glaringly obvious that we are far from what we once were.

Anonymous Coward says:

Here’s the thing though. This bill has been killed for it’s meaningful changes. They are again non-existent.

But look back. Since 2002 no one has really had any reason to attempt to pull back the NSA and they’ve had all the power they could grab within minor limits.

Now the word is out, this is but one of several attempts to change that. The American people are unhappy with this level of privacy breaking. Worse for the politicians, so are the major corporations that provide IT and internet services. As their bottom lines get cut, so will their support of present politicians and political parties.

If you want to see a change in politics, wait till election time when these politicians up for election get the message that the funds won’t be coming to their campaign chests without major overhauls in how business is done in Washington. When it comes to corporations like Cisco seeing their bottom line drop to nothing, bet they will have something to say beyond a letter that is sure to be ignored at the White House.

The tip of the iceburg has surfaced. It’s what’s below the water line that is going to do the pushing and that part is just getting started.

Whatever says:


It should come as no surprise that this has happened, politics is very much the “buzz of the day” business and outside of this blog and a few others, the whole NSA thing is starting to wane as a truly important issue. It’s not that the issue got less important in actually, but rather that it’s been beaten to death, overplayed in the media, and reached a level where the NSA has been blamed for everything including piracy!

Politicians work by grandstanding big time when the cameras are on, and then working to find a compromise so they can all claim victory. Perhaps the lofty goals of the legislation are what kills it, there is a lot of space to keep chipping away at it while still keeping the vague promise of the sound bites from the start of the process.

So when the bill passes, they will be able to say they stood up to the NSA (good sound bites for the next election cycle) but they will have done little except make noise and add regulation that stops little if anything.

Anonymous Coward says:

this goes to show exactly what the politicians think of the people they are supposed to represent, ie, nothing! the obvious ‘lobbying’ donations, brown envelopes must be flying thick and fast! perhaps the public will wake up and start to question why certain people are in the jobs they are and they deserve to be removed!

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually it sounds like it started out fairly solid, with some problems, but mostly good ideas.

Where things went downhill was when they invited/allowed in the very people who would suddenly find their actions curtailed and/or under actual scrutiny if the bill passed as it originally was, and it’s hardly surprising it was torn to pieces once that happened.

Anonymous Coward says:

USA Freedom Act started out strong, but by the time Congress and the White House gets done watering it down, the bill will end up sanctioning all the unconstitutional spying that Edward Snowden exposed to the American public.

Yes we can… spy on all of you. It’s been sanctioned as legal, constitutional, and the laws governing the spying have been classified as top secret. Yes we can!

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