Techdirt is on holiday this Thursday and Friday. We'll be back with our regular posts on the weekend!Hide

Senate Introduces Its Version Of USA Freedom Act; Greatly Improved, But Could Still Be Better

from the a-step-in-the-right-direction dept

As was widely expected, Senator Patrick Leahy has introduced the new Senate version of the USA Freedom Act. As you recall, there was a semi-decent bill in the House that had made it pretty far, before being completely gutted by the White House. From what we've heard, the Senate has been negotiating with the White House pretty intensely over the past month or so, and has taken a stance that it would not give in the way the House did. The end result is a much stronger bill than what the House passed -- and one that actually would block some of the NSA's more nefarious activities. As Access notes, there is much to like about the new bill, which is almost as good as the original USA Freedom Act in the House from last fall.

That's not to say it's perfect. As with the original USA Freedom Act, the reforms only go so far, and it leaves much to be desired. There are also some big and dangerous loopholes that are quite problematic. As some have noted, there's some good, bad and ugly in the bill.

However, if this bill moves forward it still would be a very big step forward and a significant effort to push back on the intelligence community's domestic surveillance efforts. There's still a process that it needs to go through, including getting approved by the full Senate (the rumor is it may skip the whole committee markup/approval process), and then getting reconciled with the House version (oh, yeah, and getting the President to sign it). Anywhere along the way, there may be efforts to water it down, as happened with the House bill. However, given all the negotiations that we've heard went into this, there's at least some belief that something very close to what was introduced today has a real chance -- and that's a good thing. This bill also has strong bipartisan support, including support by some powerful Senators who rarely agree on much. That's a good sign.

Even if you think -- as we do -- that much more needs to be done, there are reasons to support this bill as a stepping stone in the right direction and real pushback on the ability of the NSA to do mass surveillance.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Ninja (profile), Jul 29th, 2014 @ 11:54am

    Senator: I support that bill.
    *NSA thugs wave from the other side showing pic of family*
    Senator: On second thoughts let us change this and that.
    *forwards watered down version*
    *NSA thugs smile in approval*

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2014 @ 12:20pm

    Seriously, screw these guys!

    This is NOTHING more than feel good legislation.

    It was never constitutional for NSA to do what it has been doing, but fuck that noise... lets fuck this over some more, and pass some more meaningless laws doing nothing to solve the problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2014 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Seriously, screw these guys!

    Congress cannot determine constitutionality. Only the courts can do that. However, Congress can specifically outlaw specific acts in addition to what the Constitution forbids. That is some of what the attempt here is designed to do. I agree that the legislation should not be necessary as the Constitution already forbids it however doing something about that is not a function of Congress.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2014 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Seriously, screw these guys!

    NSA defenders like to claim that what they did was legal. Although there is good reason to believe that their activities are unconstitutional and therefore automatically illegal, legislation that specifically tells them they are wrong is still good to get on the books. If passed in a good form, it gives the pro-privacy groups explicit support to tell the courts that the NSA actions are definitely not permitted under the new legislation, regardless of what might have been permitted under the old version.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2014 @ 12:35pm

    Don't reform it, repeal it

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2014 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Re: Seriously, screw these guys!

    Actually they CAN AND SHOULD!

    Is their damn JOBS!

    Only 1 court has the power to over rule and that is SCOTUS.

    Every other Court can be struck down by the Legislature if they try to jimmydick them and rule something unconstitutional.

    Otherwise... the job of determining what is and is not Constitutional is the domain of the "LAW CREATING BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT"! SCOTUS and POTUS are there with power to overrule for when they fuck it up like they have been doing it for the past several decades leading idiots like YOU into stupidity!

    If you knew jack and shit about your history and government you would know its 3 equal branches... not 1 with privileges and benefits.

    Any branch can be over ruled if the other 2 press against it, and every other court lower than SCOTUS can be steam rolled by Congress if they actually wanted to!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2014 @ 1:11pm

    in expecting this to happen to the NSA and others may be the reason that May railroaded the UK parliament into agreeing to allow all of the citizens privacy and freedom to be violated by GCHQ and others scooping up all sorts of info along the way. seeing as how GCHQ and NSA were bed mates, it seems feasible and like this the info that the NSA was getting but not so much now, will carry on being grabbed by the UK, instead of the other way round. whichever, it still means that the freedom and privacy that are supposed to be part and parcel of a democratic society have been thrown out the window to make some ridiculous paranoid person with too much power for their own good, feel more important. they certainly cant feel more secure!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2014 @ 1:30pm


    This bill does not include punishments for those who violate it. Without that it means nothing.

    They will just keep on doing their bulk data collection because there are no consequences.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 29th, 2014 @ 3:15pm

    Which would you pay attention to?

    'Now you need to stop that, because it's illegal!'
    'Or what?'
    'Or... umm... I'll have to tell you to stop it again...'
    'Yeah, that's what we though, have fun with that.'


    'Now you need to stop that, because it's illegal!'
    'Or what?'
    'Or we'll throw everyone that does it in prison for a couple of decades, where you can have a nice chat with the higher-ups who ordered it, and who are already there.'
    'Good answer, we'll stop now.'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Sheogorath (profile), Jul 29th, 2014 @ 7:47pm

    Gee, thanks!

    Thanks for the credit for telling you this on Monday. *fumes*

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 29th, 2014 @ 10:47pm

    Re: Re: Re: Seriously, screw these guys!

    Uh-huh. Speed kills, Del.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Hide this ad »
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Techdirt Reading List
Hide this ad »
Recent Stories
Hide this ad »


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.