FISA Court Agrees To Changes That Limit NSA's Ability To Query Phone Records

from the it's-something dept

While we were mostly disappointed by President Obama's speech concerning his plans for reforming surveillance efforts, there were a few significant suggestions, with the most major one being a limit from being able to explore "3 hops" down to "2 hops." That might not sound that big, but it is a pretty big limitation when you dig into the math. Furthermore, he said that there should be a court reviewing each request to query the phone records database. He left open a pretty big loophole, saying that this judicial review could be skipped in a "true emergency," but it's still something.

In response, the Justice Department actually went to the FISA Court and filed a motion to revise the current order approving the telephone records collection (under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, sometimes called the "bulk metadata" program), to change it to put in place these restrictions. The FISA Court has now approved that request, and will release a (possibly redacted) version of the order within the next week and a half or so.

This is a small change, but it is still a meaningful change that creates both more oversight and greater limits on how this data can be used. It's a small step in the right direction.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 3:49am

    there are only two steps really needed

    a) to stop the spying altogether

    b) disband the FISA court completely because no one sitting on it has had the slightest bit of interest in doing the job they are supposed to be doing, let alone actually doing it!

    we are seeing even more evidence of what this complete spying fiasco has brought on. the UK started censoring and blocking the Internet, Sweden is doing the same as are other countries, like France and Ireland. now we have Turkey starting the same thing as well! if it carries on, it needs to lose in it's bid for joining the EU. if it doesn't, the whole of that collection of countries can kiss any sort of democracy good bye. it's sitting on the scales atm, because nothing has been done to protect the people from their own governments. this latest implementation will tip that balance in the direction away from democracy. that will lead to some severe consequences, the like of which the instigators of this whole shebang didn't foresee or expect! mark my words, we are heading for a total disaster, all starting from one countries need to know what everyone is doing! how fucking ridiculous is that??

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 4:06am

    Well billions of Americans are going to die now. Hope you're all happy.

     

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  3.  
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    relghuar, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 4:18am

    ...small step in the right direction...

    No, it's just a side-step.
    Look, we're restraining ourselves, nothing to see here, keep going...
    If they get away with it, the "court reviewing each request" already has its rubber stamp ready to action, and noone will even care about any hops limitation.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 4:42am

    Worthless!!!!

    This is pointless. There is only 1 constitutional solution to this problem.

    They do not collect records period without a warrant for each damn one!

    Let me help everyone out to how these things play down. It is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission. To change the tide you first go overboard in collecting every damn thing! Then you compromise after getting caught and just have to jump through hoops. The stupid people relax thinking "we showed them" while the NSA just laughs and says... but we are still collecting everything technically so we get what we want anyways and all you 'impressive' people only just put another door that opens and closes with a rubber stamp in our way that just delays the information by 1.2 seconds. whoop doo!

     

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  5.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 7th, 2014 @ 5:48am

    Re:

    Well billions of Americans are going to die now.

    Hollywood accounting applied to geography for gold comedy!

     

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  6.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 7th, 2014 @ 5:51am

    I believe most of these collections fall far from the Constitution. This is far too little, it still ignores that these programs all violate the Constitution itself because the laws they are based on also violate it. So the problem is not what is happening but the legal framework that is allowing it to happen despite being unconstitutional.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 6:37am

    So, another day, another NSA story. Justin Bieber is of no help. Nor French president, and nobody cares about Berlusconi's sexcapades anymore.

    Who runs PR at NSA?

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 6:44am

    The FISA court has agreed to the new limits, but the real question is will NSA agree to and abide by the new limits.

     

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  9.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 7th, 2014 @ 6:52am

    Gilding a turd

    I don't see this as a 'step in the right direction', so much as an attempt to lock in something that an increasing number of people are saying shouldn't be around in the first place.

    This is just an attempt to shift the discussion away from 'Is this program constitutional?', over to 'Does this program have 'enough' checks and balances to keep it from being abused?'(ever so conveniently ignoring the constitutional issue entirely).

    For crying out loud, the PCLOB absolutely tore every single 'justification' for the program to pieces, the panel that was meant to give a canned 'Everything is fine, nothing to see here' report instead called out numerous problems with it, and it wasn't even two weeks ago that someone helpfully summed up the problems with the program is a single sentence:

    ' 215 allows FBI to get records relevant to an investigation. PCLOB: NSA program fails on "FBI", "records," "relevant" & "investigation."
    Julian Sanchez (@normative)


    (You'll notice 'court approval' isn't even mentioned there, because the entire thing fails before it even gets that far)

    This isn't a 'step in the right direction at all, it's nothing but smoke and mirrors, the first real 'step in the right direction' will be dismantling the program entirely, and charging those responsible for it for their gross violations of the constitution and the rights of the public.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 6:57am

    He left open a pretty big loophole, saying that this judicial review could be skipped in a "true emergency"


    with the NSA everything"s "true emergency"

    The FISA Court = Rubber Stamp = zero trust

    2 Hops as defined by the NSA and FISA- Suspected terrorist calls someone in the US (the entire country is hop 1) (US Citizen calls someone overseas is Hop 2).

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 7:02am

    Re: Re:

    Thanks to FiveEyes(), America is now one with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK... so remember to combine those populaces.

     

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  12.  
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    Plato, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 7:07am

    Another NSA story developing as we speak: Copenhagen Climate spying doc (PDF) says in last paragraph on page 1:

    "Analysts here at NSA, as well as our Second Party partners..."

    Since we know that Kyoto' USG reps were actualy handled by Exxon and Burson Marsteller, can we start pointing fingers at usual suspects?

     

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  13.  
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    DannyB (profile), Feb 7th, 2014 @ 7:23am

    Re: ...small step in the right direction...

    Rather than have the FISA court spend valuable judicial resources rubber stamping each individual request to violate the law, the constitution and spy on Americans, the FISA courts should learn from the USPTO.

    Over at the USPTO they throw patent applications into a room full of kittens with stamps affixed to their feet which say PATENT GRANTED.

     

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  14.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Feb 7th, 2014 @ 7:31am

    The redacted part, revealed

    "...the government is further ordered expressly to tell Dr. Ibrahim [redacted]..."

    [... to take a trip down to Best Buy and treat herself to some sweet home entertainment equipment, and put it on the government's tab. After all, we owe her big time.]

     

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  15.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Feb 7th, 2014 @ 7:33am

    Re: The redacted part, revealed

    Crap! Wrong story. How did that happen?

     

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  16.  
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    rapnel, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 8:20am

    Idea!

    How about, how about this - The NSA keeps their fucking mitts OFF of American signals. When law enforcement has a reasonable and articulable suspicion and is granted a warrant that clearly identifies places and things it is clear that the tools at their disposal are adequate to perform their law enforcement activities.

    Our terrorism "problem" has morphed into an identity crisis for entire countries - most of which are supposed to be the models for achieving greatness for the human race. not to be confused with arms manufactures and defense contractors pocket money races

    Living with concern that what you say, who you speak with and what you do is collected, queryable and actionable is oppression, not protection. Get it fucking right, there's a lot riding on this.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 8:58am

    Oh yeah, 28 steps back, 0.28 steps forward

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 9:18am

    Re:

    No one runs PR for the NSA. The NSA never thought they would have to talk to the public, so when they had to they found out how much they absolutely suck at it. So they then deferred to Peter King and Mike Rogers who just made themselves look like buffoons. So then they decided to go with a professional in having John Miller do it for them but that sucked too. Meanwhile, Snowden, who has exactly 0 PR experience has show a lot of skill in that arena is showing quickly showing them how to do PR right even without a huge budget to work from.

     

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  19.  
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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Feb 7th, 2014 @ 9:50am

    Yesssss!

    Hooray! We WON! USA! USA!

    Wait, we were angry about them not spending enough money and hiring private companies to spy on us while they violate our rights dissolve the constitution... right?

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 11:18am

    I'm surprised the Secret Court, didn't throw a hissy fit about all these "modifications", which increases their work load. "Modifications" making us all "less safe", because they now have to follow a minimal set of constitutional guidelines.

    The horror!

     

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  21.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 7th, 2014 @ 5:19pm

    Re:

    Eh, they might burn through ink for their 'APPROVED' stamp a little quicker, assuming an increase in documents presented to them, but if they didn't bother to actually review the documents put in front of them before, why would they bother now?

     

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  22.  
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    FM Hilton, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 7:06pm

    I wonder who actually signed that statement?

    It couldn't have been James Clapper, who lied to Congress repeatedly, and has been defending this program with all of his might.

    It must have been a stand-in, because Clapper is undoubtedly gnashing his teeth and stomping his feet in frustration.

    "They're taking away all my toys! I want them back!"

     

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  23.  
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    harga hp terbaru (profile), Feb 8th, 2014 @ 9:13am

    mobile phone prices

    the talk in the phone is no longer a right to privacy, will the US will be the doll in the world by country

     

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  24.  
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    DNY (profile), Feb 8th, 2014 @ 11:55am

    Only two hops

    Well, this is good. With only two hops allowed, I should no longer have my e-mails read on the basis of searches centered on Bashar Al Assad (though my bishop's e-mails would still get read).

     

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  25.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 8th, 2014 @ 6:05pm

    Re: I wonder who actually signed that statement?

    Hardly, it's playing right into their hands, remember, 215 isn't even supposed to apply to the NSA at all, only to the FBI, this is just an attempt to lock in the program by making 'concessions', which they'll only bother with as long as people are looking.

    Also, remember the 'court' involved is the FISA 'court', the idea that they'd ever be more than a rubber stamp for the NSA is beyond a joke.

     

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