Bill Introduced To Repeal Patriot Act And Prevent The Government From Demanding Encryption Backdoors

from the a-legislator-can-dream,-can't-he? dept

Since the Snowden leaks began, there have been several efforts made -- legislative and administrative -- in response to the exposure of the NSA's domestic surveillance programs. Some have been real fixes. Some have been fake fixes. Others have targeted the thing the NSA desires even more than seemingly limitless access to data from all over the world: funding.

But none of these, not even the President's weak reform efforts, have managed to take hold. Neither will this, most likely, although you have to admire the audacity of the bill's authors, Reps. Thomas Massie and Marc Pocan.

The bill would completely repeal the Patriot Act, the sweeping national security law passed in the days after Sept. 11, 2001, as well as the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, another spying law that the NSA has used to justify collecting vast swaths of people's communications through the Internet.
If anything's due for a complete revamp, if not a complete repeal, it's the Patriot Act. It wasn't even good legislation back when it was passed. At best, it was "timely," which is a term that gives the rushed, secretive, knee-jerk legislation far more credit than it deserves. Pocan and Massie's (the latter of which has just introduced a new phone-unlocking bill with Rep. Zoe Lofgren to replace the bad one passed by the House in 2014) "Surveillance State Repeal Act" doesn't waste any time "tinkering around the edges."

Not only would the bill repeal the law, it would reset anything (amendments/additional government powers) brought into force by the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. On top of that, it would demand the immediate deletion of tons of data from the NSA's collections.
DESTRUCTION OF CERTAIN INFORMATION.—The Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General shall destroy any information collected under the USA PATRIOT Act (Public Law 107-56) and the amendments made by such Act, as in effect the day before the date of the enactment of this Act, concerning a United States person that is not related to an investigation that is actively ongoing on such date.
The bill, oddly, also describes a path towards FISA Judge For Life positions.
TERMS; REAPPOINTMENT.—Section 103(d) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1803(d)) is amended— (1) by striking ‘‘maximum of seven’’ and inserting ‘‘maximum of ten’’; and (2) by striking ‘‘and shall not be eligible for re-designation’’.
Which is fine (not really) if you like the judges already appointed. But this is the sort of thing that leads to the permanent appointment of judges favored by either side of the surveillance question. And so far, presidential administrations have come down in favor of domestic surveillance. Removing the term limits just encourages the appointment of permanent NSA rubber stamps.

The bill creates a warrant requirement for the acquisition of US persons' data under the FISA Amendments Act and Executive Order 12333. It also expressly forbids a government mandate for encryption backdoors, although the first sentence of this section seems to be a rather large loophole.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Federal Government shall not mandate that the manufacturer of an electronic device or software for an electronic device build into such device or software a mechanism that allows the Federal Government to bypass the encryption or privacy technology of such device or software.
If this bill somehow manages to pass a round or two of scrutiny, language tweaks will certainly be requested -- possibly leading to a complete subversion of the bill's intent. But that's a huge "if." Very few legislators have the stomach to gut the Patriot Act or the FISA Amendments Act. Many will be happy to entertain smaller fixes, but most won't be willing to essentially strip the NSA of its domestic surveillance powers. No one wants to be the "yea" vote that's pointed to in the wake of a terrorist attack and only a few more are actually willing to go head-to-head with the intelligence agency.

Filed Under: congress, fisa, fisa amendments act, marc pocan, nsa, patriot act, surveillance, thomas massie


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  • identicon
    DigDug, 26 Mar 2015 @ 11:41am

    Terrorists already won the war, unless we get rid of these laws.

    Don't the politicians understand that things like the Patriot Act and the FISA legislation are Terrorist Wins?

    The terrorists didn't like our freedoms, they made their attack, and voila, terrorists win with legislation that strips away our freedoms.

    Stupid fucknuts in Congress and Alphabet organizations are the cause of the Terrorists winning this round.

    The only way we can win the war on Terror is to roll back legislation like this, to give us back our freedoms.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 12:02pm

      Re: Terrorists already won the war, unless we get rid of these laws.

      The terrorists would only win if the USA is destroyed as a country, removing its army from the world stage. They do not care what form the Government of the USA takes; indeed an authoritarian fascists government would be a bad outcome for them, as it would take a more aggressive role in forcing their countries to give the USA what it wants from them.

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

      • icon
        Seegras (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 1:24pm

        Re: Re: Terrorists already won the war, unless we get rid of these laws.

        You're wrong. Terrorist are perfectly happy if you do something that makes your population miserable, including enacting fascist laws like the patriot act.

        And it doesn't really matter if you're more aggressive, as the only thing that will do is produce more unhappy people on their side that will take up terrorism.

        That doesn't mean you shouldn't do anything against terrorism, but you've got to be very careful. All collateral damage you do will play into their hands.

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

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 4:11pm

          Actually doing nothing against "terrorism" works.

          If we treated acts of terrorism not as a political act but as a criminal act (say, the way we did the Oklahoma City Bombing or the assassination of George Tiller) then terror as a means of affecting political change would fail.

          By giving terrorism recognition as a political action, our society enables terrorism to affect political change.

          Of course that does facilitate the military-industrial complex who profits heavily from the war on terror, which is why we have one, even through a war on slippery bathtubs would save more lives.

          So no, I'd say we shouldn't do anything against terrorism at least no more than we regard any other heinous crime.

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

          • icon
            GEMont (profile), 28 Mar 2015 @ 10:31pm

            Re: Actually doing nothing against "terrorism" works.

            Actually, winning the war on terrorism is super easy.

            First, you stop bombing third world countries into the stone age, which turns the survivors of these third world countries into terrorists.

            Second, you rebuild all the third world countries you already bombed into the stone age and give the survivors a huge pile of cash to make up somewhat for the family members you slaughtered. Use the money you would have spent on bombs and bullets and such to make this payment, since you won't need then anymore. Then you can sell them the material resources they will need to re-establish their civilizational infrastructure - at a discount of course.

            Third, promise the world to never invade and destroy any more countries for commercial or religious reasons, and only attack countries that declare war on America, or who send troops to invade America.

            Voila - no terrorists, and so, an instant end to the war on terrorism.

            ---

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

    • icon
      Seegras (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 1:11pm

      Re: Terrorists already won the war, unless we get rid of these laws.

      Yeah, funny how difficult it is for citizens to change laws, while some madman running around with a towel on his head and a bomb in his underpants immediately gets any repressive law he wants inflicted on the people.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 7:14pm

      Re: Terrorists already won the war, unless we get rid of these laws.

      This statement makes perfect sense if you are a foreign agressor against the united states.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 11:55am

    >No one wants to be the "yea" vote that's pointed to in the wake of a terrorist attack and only a few more are actually willing to go head-to-head with the intelligence agency.

    Precisely why Congress needs to vote ANONYMOUSLY, just like everyone always does in any sort of voting situation. Otherwise you get outsides influences that force you to vote in a way that you may not agree with.

    This video explains why this is such a huge problem in Congress: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gEz__sMVaY

    Bring anonymous voting to Congress, and even lobbying will lose much of its power (because the lobbyists can't be sure who voted what anymore).

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 12:04pm

      Re:

      You also wouldn't be able to tell how your rep voted on anything either. I'm sure they'd love that.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 6:55pm

        Re: Re:

        Yeah, it is a double edged sword there. Lobbying would lose some power if they couldn't prove that they did what they were bribed for - although chances are that they would find out anyway.

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

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 12:13pm

      Anonymous voting in Congress

      Sadly that would also remove all accountability by representatives to their constituents. The voter would genuinely voting for the person as he is with his own conscienc, rather than the person he campaigned and promised to be.

      Not that campaign promises matter much currently.

      A late solution would be to develop secure internet voting and create a participatory democracy. But that is many, many steps from the US system today.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 2:22pm

        Re: Anonymous voting in Congress

        This^

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 2:39pm

        Re: Anonymous voting in Congress

        ...secure internet voting...

        It doesn't matter how one votes. So long as our choices are for the lesser of evils instead of good (or even average) we will be stuck with what we have and get.

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

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 3:17pm

          Far sooner than implementing internet voting or referenda for everything...

          We can create alternatives to first-past-the-post voting, which is the primary cause for defensive voting.

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

          • identicon
            Pragmatic, 27 Mar 2015 @ 7:28am

            Re: Far sooner than implementing internet voting or referenda for everything...

            Even if we got proportional representation, we'd still have to cope with the Red Team/Blue Team mentality, which would take a generation or so to overcome, so little would change if we only do that.

            Add caucusing to that, and we won't see much in the way of improvement as smaller parties' reps get forced into coalitions with other parties in an effort to get things done.

            What we need to do is build awareness of other parties and encourage people to vote for them in enough numbers to get them elected. That will mean a lot of grass roots campaigning but we can do it if we put the effort in.

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

    • icon
      smartin (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 2:03pm

      Re:

      I can't agree that anonymous voting would be a good idea. If the guy I voted into office votes in a way I don't like, I damn sure wanna know about it.

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

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 12:02pm

    If anything's due for a complete revamp, if not a complete repeal, it's the DMCA. It wasn't even good legislation back when it was passed.

    It works on so many levels...

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 12:08pm

    I hold no hopes of seeing this pass, but it is outstanding to see it presented - as it means there are a few politicians willing to look at how far we have strayed off course.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 12:12pm

    and how many was it defeated by? and the names of all of those who vote against it? will you let the people know who is representing them and who is representing the government?

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

  • identicon
    FMHilton, 26 Mar 2015 @ 12:22pm

    Egads, some common sense?

    As another commented, it is very unlikely to pass either the house or the Senate, because there is so much money at stake in this whole thing.

    Besides, a lot of people involved with the various agencies would lose their jobs and we can't have that, can we?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 12:32pm

    No one wants to be the "yea" vote that's pointed to in the wake of a terrorist attack and only a few more are actually willing to go head-to-head with the intelligence agency.

    ...and what if the (un)PATRIOT(ic) Act is repealed and NOTHING happens?

    This is why fear mongering works - because so few people have the courage to stand on their own two feet, and say "we CANNOT guarantee absolute security."

    Land of the free?
    Home of the brave?

    I disagree.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 12:40pm

    Where you see them getting nervous over making a "yeh" vote I see an opportunity.

    They could completely spin this as what Benjamin Franklin would do and that those who would give up liberty for a little temporary security shall have nether liberty or security and deserve neither.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 1:59pm

    For all

    For all that has already been done in the past...
    They still want to do this.

    ASK, Microsoft, ask any game programmer, Ask Any programmer.
    How well back doors work.

    Who here remembers the Launch codes that hadnt been changed in 50+ years? 111111..

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 2:35pm

    Nightmare scenario: Everything is gutted from the bill in an amendment except:
    TERMS; REAPPOINTMENT.—Section 103(d) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1803(d)) is amended— (1) by striking ‘‘maximum of seven’’ and inserting ‘‘maximum of ten’’; and (2) by striking ‘‘and shall not be eligible for re-designation’’.

    And the bill get heaps of praise by congress and the intelligence community, and is passed.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 10:21pm

    I don't see how being the "yea" vote is risky. Can anyone name one terrorist event the PAT RIOT act has stopped? Not counting home brewed terrorist acts funded, planned, and executed by the FBI.

    Didn't stop the underwear bomber. Didn't stop the Boston bombers. Didn't stop Charlie the cartoonist and his colleges from being assassinated. Didn't stop the German Airbus pilot committing suicide and taking 150 people to the grave with him.

    What is the PAT RIOT act good for? Nothing.

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

    • icon
      GEMont (profile), 27 Mar 2015 @ 3:45pm

      Re:

      Come on now. Give them credit where credit is due.

      Had the surveillance network stopped these acts, what would they use to scare the tax-payers with??

      My wonder is how many of these Terrorist Attacks did they finance, plan and execute themselves, specifically to scare the money out the taxpayers.

      The FBI might use phony bombs and phony bullets for their brand of home-made newsworthy Terrorist skits, but the CIA plays for real and uses real bombs and bullets for their false flag scenraios.

      Since criminals keep few records - of their own actions - we'll likely never know.

      ---

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

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 27 Mar 2015 @ 3:38pm

    Chances of thisw bill passing....

    Welcome to Hell, Snowflake.

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

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 27 Mar 2015 @ 3:52pm

    In other news, I hear there's also a bill to give every person in the US $1 million! I'm sure it will pass as well...

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

    • icon
      GEMont (profile), 28 Mar 2015 @ 10:13pm

      Re:

      "I'm sure it will pass as well..."

      Actually it has a far greater chance of passing, since a bill to give every American 1 million dollars obviously calls for taking the money they plan to give to every American, from every American's taxes.

      After all, the government does not have any other money to give away.

      ---

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


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