Feinstein Releases Fake NSA Reform Bill, Actually Tries To Legalize Illegal NSA Bulk Data Collection
from the don't-buy-the-lies dept
- Prohibits the collection of bulk communication records under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act except under specific procedures and restrictions set forth in the bill;
- Establishes criminal penalties of up to 10 years in prison for intentional unauthorized access to data acquired under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the United States;
- Prohibits the bulk collection of the content of communications under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act;
Even more ridiculous, the focus (both in the marketing and the bill itself) on collection of content "under Section 215" is another red herring, since it appears that much of that collection actually happens under other programs anyway. So this doesn't change a damn thing.
Other supposed "changes" in the bill -- including limiting who can perform queries on the data, how many "hops" they can analyze and how long they can retain the data, all match with current practice and don't change a thing. Even though James Clapper and Keith Alexander more or less seemed to concede at yesterday's House hearing that they'd be okay with cutting back on the data retention from five to three years, this bill keeps it at five. There are a few other minor changes, but this bill is almost entirely as expected, simply codifying the status quo, even though Feinstein has insisted that it was legal all along. The one minor "concession" which many had expected -- having a third party at the FISA Court who could fight for civil liberties -- is watered down. Rather than an actual adversarial setup, with this person representing civil liberties, it's set up as an appointed "amicus cureia" or "friend of the court," where they basically just advise the court on the issue.
This bill is a farce, and made even more farcical by the misleading way in which Feinstein has presented it, pretending it bans bulk data collection when it actually legalizes it.