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Three PATRIOT Act Provisions Likely To Sunset, Briefly, But USA Freedom Will Pass Shortly

from the what-happens-next-is-what-matters dept

On Friday, we posted a story looking at the divergent views of two of my favorite privacy experts: Jennifer Granick favoring just letting the three PATRIOT Act clauses to sunset… and Julian Sanchez arguing that just letting those provisions sunset would unfortunately leave aside many of the important reforms in the USA Freedom Act. But, as we noted, both of them seemed to agree that either such result, without further reforms, wouldn’t be enough.

Well, now it appears that both things will happen. After some debate, a late vote this evening, the Senate voted 77 to 17 to move forward on the USA Freedom Act — but a vote will not occur until Monday at the earliest. That means, in a few hours, those three provisions of the PATRIOT Act will expire (and, no, this does not mean — as some have falsely stated that the PATRIOT Act itself is dead). And then, a few days later, the USA Freedom Act will be passed (even Rand Paul admitted this is what’s going to happen, even as he sought to block USA Freedom). Paul and some others are going to try to add some important amendments to the bill, but they’re unlikely to pass.

In other words, both of the arguments that Granick and Sanchez made seem to have happened. Section 215 will “sunset” briefly — hence a symbolic win. And USA Freedom Act, which has some useful reforms, will pass. And… then we’ll still have a long way to go to get even more important surveillance reform. The events of this evening are an important step forward. Until just recently, the very idea that we might limit the Section 215 program for real seemed unlikely. And yet, now that’s happening — with both a brief sunset and the reforms in the USA Freedom Act.

But it’s not enough. There is still plenty of excessive surveillance happening — under other provisions, including Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act and Executive Order 12333. Those need to be dealt with if we’re to have real surveillance reform. The end result is that this is a an important victory for surveillance reform — which never would have happened without Ed Snowden’s actions — but it’s just a step. And a lot more is needed. And it’s needed now.

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Comments on “Three PATRIOT Act Provisions Likely To Sunset, Briefly, But USA Freedom Will Pass Shortly”

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That One Guy says:

The Snowden myth again.

First, Greenwald is HOARDING at best:
It’s not Greenwald’s or any journalist’s duty to vet documents that the US public owns, and again, how does he know which are safe to let out?

Second, doubts about Snowden remain. Here’s a good recent outline:

Just show me where the daily surveillance of citizens is actually reduced. Or promise that on Monday Patriot Act 2, “This time it’s personal”, won’t be passed.

LAquaker (profile) says:

sloppy seconds or nothing

…bulk collection, business records, executive order 12333, mass surveillance, NSA, patriot act, section 215, section 702, sunset, surveillance….

We were promised a ‘Space telescope’ since Sputnik went up.
NSA and the AirForce stole the first two space telescopes and commandeered the third for half the observing time, looking down your blouse.
LATimes reported that the Hubble coincidently shipped in Lockheed’s BigBird crate, thus no photographs were allowed.
Perk&Elmer ‘accidentally’ re-figured the primary mirror for terrestrial observation; the janitor with a penlight and a razorblade would have caught any such ‘mistake’.
The AirForce refused to launch Hubble or Galileo with ‘their’ Titan rockets, thus Galileo was over 8 years old when it was useful, and the DOD’s ‘Space Shuttle’ got a civilian cover story.
Old Man George Bush locked up the photo library and shut off LandStat after Newsweek published photos of the burning Amazon.
When walking through JPL i was told that NO interplanetary robot was ALLOWED to use a multi-element detector array until the late 1980’s!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: sloppy seconds or nothing

Having worked at JPL, I can refute some of what you said

Galileo was a case of not having a heavy enough lift rocket to put it in the proper orbit. The shuttle was (and remains) the heaviest lift system that we had until its retirement.

Scientific probes did not have a ‘multi-element detector’ because of technical reasons. Somethign taht is launched on a probe must work the first time, every time for years in an extremely challenging environment. That is why probes are always 15-20 years behind the tech curve. (as a manner of perspective, the MSL [curiostiy] Rover has a power PC 603E processor, state of the art in 1995)

As for the Hubble, the spherical abberation was a screw-up, nothing more, nothing less. It is also well known that, for scientific purposes, NASA wanted to use a slightly larger mirror. They went with the smaller mirror currently fitted as a cost-savings measure (the anecdote that I heard was that the cost savings came due to common parts/production with the USAF birds). The mirror would have still had the abberation if looking at the planet and not into space. Moreover, Hubble time is some of the most valuable telescope time for any astronomer. People would notice if time useful for making astronomical observances were suddenly retasked to something taht was not talked about.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: sunset

Sometimes voting for the broken clock is the only way to fix the rest.

Sad that a lot of people refuse to accept this.

We have been playing the political game the same way for decades now, hoping for something different.

I believe someone said that this was the definition of insanity. As insane as it sounds voting for a turd like Rand Paul should be something you only need to do every once in a while to send a Critical and Required shock that is necessary from time to time. If you don’t… just remember… you will not see it coming until its too late.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: sunset

Agreed. I don’t like any of his other views, but if I accept that privacy and surveillance is a dominant problem today, it might not be a wasted vote to give it to Rand.

Single-issue voters on subjects like abortion have not gotten their desired result, but they’ve sure as hell succeeded in making abortion a hotly debated topic…for 40 years. I’m bored of that subject, but I would not mind talking about my civil rights for a while. Heck, even 40 years would be OK.

Any other candidate that aligns with Rand on privacy would also stand a good chance to get my vote.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: sunset

Hey, his foreign policy is naïve and a little too isolationistic, but his domestic policy is based on the US Constitution and limiting the federal government, things we should all be for.

He’s kind of like Perot in that he brings up many good points, but has zero chance of being, an indeed should NOT be, elected president.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: sunset

The libertarian concept of “small government” is also hopelessly naive. When you get down to it, it’s fundamentally based on the notion that you can somehow get rid of power, that if you get the government to loose its grip on power, that all that power will magically evaporate into a beautiful rainbow of sparkles, happiness, and more liberty for everyone.

There are only two reasons why someone would make such a ridiculous claim: 1) they don’t know what a power vacuum is, how it works, or how ugly it gets for the people caught in one, or 2) they do know, and deliberately want to create one in the hopes of profiting from the ensuing chaos.

It’s hard to say which is more dangerous.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: sunset

Yea, because platitudes are perfect examples of how stuff won’t work.

Remember… there is more than 1 government you have to deal with.

Central (the one that should be small)

That is a lot of fucking government. You just like everyone else already knows (additionally proven by history time and again) that Centralized Monolithic institutions are always a fucking disaster yet you can’t seem to figure this shit out.

The idea that the libertarian concept of a small government magically takes away TOO much power is just as fucking stupid as you are accusing them of being!

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 sunset

On the contrary. History proves that so-called “centralized monolithic institutions” are the only way to build a stable social structure of non-trivial size.

Look at any social institution in the world around you. Your family. The business you work at. The church you attend. The government. Clubs or social organizations you belong to. Look at their organization: they’re all shaped like pyramids. It is the great pattern of human nature, and history has proven time and again that it’s the only thing that works. (Most recently by giving us the example of the Occupy Wall Street movement. So much potential, but they consciously refused to organize, and so for all the resources they had at their disposal, they ended up accomplishing a whole lot of nothing.)

When you understand this, you see that the only way to have a small government is to have a small nation. You really want to go down that road?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 sunset

… there is more than 1 government you have to deal with.

Central (the one that should be small)

You forgot special districts. Take a look at your property tax bill next time. If your area is like mine there are more special districts than actual government entities.

And we might include HOAs in that too.

Anonymous Coward says:

So what happens to the extension provisions? Section 215 will no longer be law when the final vote for passage takes place, let alone having the president sign it into law. Only way that could be fixed is if McConnell puts an amendment to the floor that retroactively reauthorizes 215, but then that means going back to the House…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So what happens to the extension provisions?

All recent extensions to Section 215 have been voted down so far. They could still try another vote. Although I don’t think it has much of a chance of passing.

As Mike notes in this post, they will most likely move forward with what I consider to be NSA’s “Plan B” (i.e., The USA Freedom Act). Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if that wasn’t the plan all along.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Once expired (i.e., “sunset”), it’s expired. There is no set “final vote”. Only a deadline they need to vote by one way or the other (or not at all). At the time of my above reply, all proposed extensions to that point had been voted down. Since there was no subsequent vote in favor of extension, the reauthorization of 215 has expired. That’s it for Section 215 reauthorization – it is dead. Any legislation granting a similar version of these specific powers will have to be new. Either a new legal interpretation of an existing law or completely new legislation (e.g., The USA Freedom Act).

Anyway, this is just a first step in a never ending battle. It’s something, but there’s a long way to go – Don’t Worry, the Government Still Has Plenty of Surveillance Power If Section 215 Sunsets

David says:

Re: Re:

Or as the hawks would say, Al Qaeda and isis have sovereign control of the US for the next 48 hours

So what? It has taken years and hundreds of billions of dollars to dismantle the U.S.A. and its principles in the manner the NSA did.

So this would just be handing sovereign control to the lesser (and significantly more affordable) evil. People try that every election with little success, so this might be worth a try. But 48 hours is a bit short.

David says:

Re: Re:

They may well be right. Pets are safer locked in a cage than roaming free.

At one point of time, you need to make a choice. The founders of the Republic chose freedom, and that is spelled out in the Constitution. If you want a different choice, you don’t belong in the U.S.A. Either you or the U.S.A. need to go.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You’re just misunderstanding what they mean when they use the word “citizens”.

When billionaires say that “citizens” are safer when the public no longer has all those pesky rights cluttering up their lives, the “citizens” they are referring to are themselves.

You see, in an Ownership Society, only the Owners are actually citizens. The rest of us are Denizens, and have no standing under the laws that protect Citizen Rights.

Don’t forget, the Boys in Power gave themselves the legal right to “re-interpret” the Constitution after 9/11, so the meaning of any part of Constitution is very likely now the exact opposite of what you think it means.

noneya beeswax says:

Why try

Why try when illigal activity by the government just passes another law doing the same thing? What perverts. All this spying creates bad blood with are allies, helps recruit terrorist who already knew not to use any comms. That are run by the USA.this new law don’t change how the nsa contractors steal pretty girl pics. And gather evidence against the public with no terrorist connections.(its really to help the war on drugs and political people.)

GEMont (profile) says:

The Fascists Handbook - Sleight of Hand

If Section 215 is allowed to sunset, even briefly, it simply means that section 216, the much broader, secret replacement for section 215, is now is full effect, along with secret section 217, which makes section 216 100% legal.

Those who direct the spy agencies of the USA will NEVER take a REAL step backwards in their eternal search for more ways to control “The Adversary”; the American people, through blackmail, coercion and character assassination, made possible through these surveillance programs.

Any apparent set backwards, is always just a PR move to cover their behind-the-scenes escalation of the powers of the surveillance state and its apparatus.

Remember this always.

The US Spy-guys adopted the motto of Hydra:

“Cut off one arm and two more take its place.”

They adopted this motto for a very simple reason.
Its always been their modus operandi and for the same reasons as the comic book crime syndicate Hydra:

Yachts, Bimbos and Cocaine.

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