Major New Anti-NSA Bill Dropping Next Week With Powerful Support
from the this-could-get-interesting dept
The bill appears to do a number of good things, focusing on limiting the NSA's ability to do dragnet collections, rather than specific and targeted data collection, while also significantly increasing transparency of the activities of the NSA as well as the FISA court when it comes to rulings that interpret the law.
- End bulk data collection under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. This is the program that collects metadata on every phone call based on a twisted interpretation of the law and a thorough revisionist dictionary for words like "targeted," "relevance," "search" and "surveillance." Sensenbrenner, who crafted much of the original PATRIOT Act insists that when he wrote it, it was intended to already ban this kind of dragnet. The new bill will make that explicit. Similarly, it appears that the bill will require the intelligence community to be much more proactive in filtering out unnecessary information and deleting information collected incidentally.
- Fixing the FISC: As many have recommended, the law would make sure that a public advocate can be present to be an adversarial presence, arguing in favor of protecting Americans' privacy. There will be a special Office of the Special Advocate (OSA) created for this role. Somewhat surprisingly, the OSA will even be allowed to appeal decisions that the FISA court makes if it believes they stray from the law or the Constitution. That could be a very big deal.
Separately, the DOJ will be required to declassify all FISC decisions from the past decade that involve "a significant construction or interpretation of the law." That is, no more secret law-making by the FISC.
- Greater transparency for companies on the receiving end of demands for information. This would make it so companies that get orders to hand over information can reveal numbers of requests, effectively stopping the existing gag orders which prevent us from knowing how often the NSA is demanding info from internet companies.