Three PATRIOT Act Provisions Likely To Sunset, Briefly, But USA Freedom Will Pass Shortly

from the what-happens-next-is-what-matters dept

On Friday, we posted a story looking at the divergent views of two of my favorite privacy experts: Jennifer Granick favoring just letting the three PATRIOT Act clauses to sunset... and Julian Sanchez arguing that just letting those provisions sunset would unfortunately leave aside many of the important reforms in the USA Freedom Act. But, as we noted, both of them seemed to agree that either such result, without further reforms, wouldn't be enough.

Well, now it appears that both things will happen. After some debate, a late vote this evening, the Senate voted 77 to 17 to move forward on the USA Freedom Act -- but a vote will not occur until Monday at the earliest. That means, in a few hours, those three provisions of the PATRIOT Act will expire (and, no, this does not mean -- as some have falsely stated that the PATRIOT Act itself is dead). And then, a few days later, the USA Freedom Act will be passed (even Rand Paul admitted this is what's going to happen, even as he sought to block USA Freedom). Paul and some others are going to try to add some important amendments to the bill, but they're unlikely to pass.

In other words, both of the arguments that Granick and Sanchez made seem to have happened. Section 215 will "sunset" briefly -- hence a symbolic win. And USA Freedom Act, which has some useful reforms, will pass. And... then we'll still have a long way to go to get even more important surveillance reform. The events of this evening are an important step forward. Until just recently, the very idea that we might limit the Section 215 program for real seemed unlikely. And yet, now that's happening -- with both a brief sunset and the reforms in the USA Freedom Act.

But it's not enough. There is still plenty of excessive surveillance happening -- under other provisions, including Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act and Executive Order 12333. Those need to be dealt with if we're to have real surveillance reform. The end result is that this is a an important victory for surveillance reform -- which never would have happened without Ed Snowden's actions -- but it's just a step. And a lot more is needed. And it's needed now.

Filed Under: bulk collection, business records, executive order 12333, mass surveillance, nsa, patriot act, rand paul, section 215, section 702, sunset, surveillance


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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    That One Guy, 31 May 2015 @ 5:24pm

    The Snowden myth again.

    First, Greenwald is HOARDING at best:
    http://cryptome.org/2013/11/snowden-tally.htm
    It's not Greenwald's or any journalist's duty to vet documents that the US public owns, and again, how does he know which are safe to let out?

    Second, doubts about Snowden remain. Here's a good recent outline:
    http://cryptome.org/2015/05/rethinking-snowden.htm

    Just show me where the daily surveillance of citizens is actually reduced. Or promise that on Monday Patriot Act 2, "This time it's personal", won't be passed.

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

  • icon
    LAquaker (profile), 31 May 2015 @ 5:51pm

    sloppy seconds or nothing

    ...bulk collection, business records, executive order 12333, mass surveillance, NSA, patriot act, section 215, section 702, sunset, surveillance....

    We were promised a 'Space telescope' since Sputnik went up.
    NSA and the AirForce stole the first two space telescopes and commandeered the third for half the observing time, looking down your blouse.
    LATimes reported that the Hubble coincidently shipped in Lockheed's BigBird crate, thus no photographs were allowed.
    Perk&Elmer 'accidentally' re-figured the primary mirror for terrestrial observation; the janitor with a penlight and a razorblade would have caught any such 'mistake'.
    The AirForce refused to launch Hubble or Galileo with 'their' Titan rockets, thus Galileo was over 8 years old when it was useful, and the DOD's 'Space Shuttle' got a civilian cover story.
    Old Man George Bush locked up the photo library and shut off LandStat after Newsweek published photos of the burning Amazon.
    When walking through JPL i was told that NO interplanetary robot was ALLOWED to use a multi-element detector array until the late 1980's!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2015 @ 12:29am

      Re: sloppy seconds or nothing

      Having worked at JPL, I can refute some of what you said

      Galileo was a case of not having a heavy enough lift rocket to put it in the proper orbit. The shuttle was (and remains) the heaviest lift system that we had until its retirement.

      Scientific probes did not have a 'multi-element detector' because of technical reasons. Somethign taht is launched on a probe must work the first time, every time for years in an extremely challenging environment. That is why probes are always 15-20 years behind the tech curve. (as a manner of perspective, the MSL [curiostiy] Rover has a power PC 603E processor, state of the art in 1995)

      As for the Hubble, the spherical abberation was a screw-up, nothing more, nothing less. It is also well known that, for scientific purposes, NASA wanted to use a slightly larger mirror. They went with the smaller mirror currently fitted as a cost-savings measure (the anecdote that I heard was that the cost savings came due to common parts/production with the USAF birds). The mirror would have still had the abberation if looking at the planet and not into space. Moreover, Hubble time is some of the most valuable telescope time for any astronomer. People would notice if time useful for making astronomical observances were suddenly retasked to something taht was not talked about.

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

  • identicon
    LeftShark, 31 May 2015 @ 6:07pm

    sunset

    It just seems unworldly to be cheering for Rand Paul.

    But, we are.

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

    • icon
      Mason Wheeler (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 7:25am

      Re: sunset

      I'm not. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. The guy may have some of the right ideas on surveillance, but he's still a libertarian.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2015 @ 7:31am

        Re: Re: sunset

        Sometimes voting for the broken clock is the only way to fix the rest.

        Sad that a lot of people refuse to accept this.

        We have been playing the political game the same way for decades now, hoping for something different.

        I believe someone said that this was the definition of insanity. As insane as it sounds voting for a turd like Rand Paul should be something you only need to do every once in a while to send a Critical and Required shock that is necessary from time to time. If you don't... just remember... you will not see it coming until its too late.

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

        • icon
          Derek Kerton (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 11:27am

          Re: Re: Re: sunset

          Agreed. I don't like any of his other views, but if I accept that privacy and surveillance is a dominant problem today, it might not be a wasted vote to give it to Rand.

          Single-issue voters on subjects like abortion have not gotten their desired result, but they've sure as hell succeeded in making abortion a hotly debated topic...for 40 years. I'm bored of that subject, but I would not mind talking about my civil rights for a while. Heck, even 40 years would be OK.

          Any other candidate that aligns with Rand on privacy would also stand a good chance to get my vote.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2015 @ 7:27am

      Re: sunset

      Hey, his foreign policy is naïve and a little too isolationistic, but his domestic policy is based on the US Constitution and limiting the federal government, things we should all be for.

      He's kind of like Perot in that he brings up many good points, but has zero chance of being, an indeed should NOT be, elected president.

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

      • icon
        Mason Wheeler (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 7:50am

        Re: Re: sunset

        The libertarian concept of "small government" is also hopelessly naive. When you get down to it, it's fundamentally based on the notion that you can somehow get rid of power, that if you get the government to loose its grip on power, that all that power will magically evaporate into a beautiful rainbow of sparkles, happiness, and more liberty for everyone.

        There are only two reasons why someone would make such a ridiculous claim: 1) they don't know what a power vacuum is, how it works, or how ugly it gets for the people caught in one, or 2) they do know, and deliberately want to create one in the hopes of profiting from the ensuing chaos.

        It's hard to say which is more dangerous.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2015 @ 7:56am

          Re: Re: Re: sunset

          Yea, because platitudes are perfect examples of how stuff won't work.

          Remember... there is more than 1 government you have to deal with.

          Central (the one that should be small)
          State
          County
          City

          That is a lot of fucking government. You just like everyone else already knows (additionally proven by history time and again) that Centralized Monolithic institutions are always a fucking disaster yet you can't seem to figure this shit out.

          The idea that the libertarian concept of a small government magically takes away TOO much power is just as fucking stupid as you are accusing them of being!

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

          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 8:03am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: sunset

            "there is more than 1 government you have to deal with"

            You forgot one from your list: corporations.

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

          • icon
            Mason Wheeler (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 8:18am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: sunset

            On the contrary. History proves that so-called "centralized monolithic institutions" are the only way to build a stable social structure of non-trivial size.

            Look at any social institution in the world around you. Your family. The business you work at. The church you attend. The government. Clubs or social organizations you belong to. Look at their organization: they're all shaped like pyramids. It is the great pattern of human nature, and history has proven time and again that it's the only thing that works. (Most recently by giving us the example of the Occupy Wall Street movement. So much potential, but they consciously refused to organize, and so for all the resources they had at their disposal, they ended up accomplishing a whole lot of nothing.)

            When you understand this, you see that the only way to have a small government is to have a small nation. You really want to go down that road?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2015 @ 8:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: sunset

            ... there is more than 1 government you have to deal with.

            Central (the one that should be small)
            State
            County
            City...


            You forgot special districts. Take a look at your property tax bill next time. If your area is like mine there are more special districts than actual government entities.

            And we might include HOAs in that too.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 May 2015 @ 6:19pm

    So what happens to the extension provisions? Section 215 will no longer be law when the final vote for passage takes place, let alone having the president sign it into law. Only way that could be fixed is if McConnell puts an amendment to the floor that retroactively reauthorizes 215, but then that means going back to the House...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 May 2015 @ 6:28pm

      Re:

      So what happens to the extension provisions?

      All recent extensions to Section 215 have been voted down so far. They could still try another vote. Although I don't think it has much of a chance of passing.

      As Mike notes in this post, they will most likely move forward with what I consider to be NSA's "Plan B" (i.e., The USA Freedom Act). Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if that wasn't the plan all along.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 May 2015 @ 7:47pm

        Re: Re:

        Except the underlying law will have already sunset.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2015 @ 7:30am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Once expired (i.e., "sunset"), it's expired. There is no set "final vote". Only a deadline they need to vote by one way or the other (or not at all). At the time of my above reply, all proposed extensions to that point had been voted down. Since there was no subsequent vote in favor of extension, the reauthorization of 215 has expired. That's it for Section 215 reauthorization - it is dead. Any legislation granting a similar version of these specific powers will have to be new. Either a new legal interpretation of an existing law or completely new legislation (e.g., The USA Freedom Act).

          Anyway, this is just a first step in a never ending battle. It's something, but there's a long way to go - Don’t Worry, the Government Still Has Plenty of Surveillance Power If Section 215 Sunsets

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

  • identicon
    LeftShark, 31 May 2015 @ 6:33pm

    According to this, http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/patriot-act-rand-paul-expire-sunset-section-215-20150531 ,
    it might not be legal to re-authorize the act after it expired. Congress will, in effect, pass new legislation. That puts the USA Freedom act in murky waters, legally.

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

    • icon
      Padpaw (profile), 31 May 2015 @ 10:08pm

      Re:

      That would assume the people behind it would care. If you think about it, it covers stuff that has been done illegally for decades now. why would they suddenly start obeying the laws when they have been constantly ignoring them?

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

  • icon
    toyotabedzrock (profile), 31 May 2015 @ 7:26pm

    Or as the hawks would say, Al Qaeda and isis have sovereign control of the US for the next 48 hours, and its Obama's fault!

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 31 May 2015 @ 8:01pm

      Re:

      I really wish that was funnier, as opposed to almost certainly what will be said by the war and spy-happy nutjobs.

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

    • identicon
      David, 1 Jun 2015 @ 3:12am

      Re:

      Or as the hawks would say, Al Qaeda and isis have sovereign control of the US for the next 48 hours

      So what? It has taken years and hundreds of billions of dollars to dismantle the U.S.A. and its principles in the manner the NSA did.

      So this would just be handing sovereign control to the lesser (and significantly more affordable) evil. People try that every election with little success, so this might be worth a try. But 48 hours is a bit short.

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

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 31 May 2015 @ 10:09pm

    I do love the mentality of people in power that "citizens are safer without all those pesky freedoms cluttering up their daily lives"

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

    • identicon
      David, 31 May 2015 @ 11:12pm

      Re:

      They may well be right. Pets are safer locked in a cage than roaming free.

      At one point of time, you need to make a choice. The founders of the Republic chose freedom, and that is spelled out in the Constitution. If you want a different choice, you don't belong in the U.S.A. Either you or the U.S.A. need to go.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2015 @ 7:31am

        Re: Re:

        Every way of life has its risks. You can face threats that are primarily from the outside or from the inside. The American way is an example of the former. We need to move back that direction as we're drifting ever closer to the latter.

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

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 8:04am

        Re: Re:

        "Pets are safer locked in a cage than roaming free."

        Not when their captors are abusive.

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

    • icon
      GEMont (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 2:01pm

      Re:

      You're just misunderstanding what they mean when they use the word "citizens".

      When billionaires say that "citizens" are safer when the public no longer has all those pesky rights cluttering up their lives, the "citizens" they are referring to are themselves.

      You see, in an Ownership Society, only the Owners are actually citizens. The rest of us are Denizens, and have no standing under the laws that protect Citizen Rights.

      Don't forget, the Boys in Power gave themselves the legal right to "re-interpret" the Constitution after 9/11, so the meaning of any part of Constitution is very likely now the exact opposite of what you think it means.

      ---

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

  • identicon
    Tin Foil Hat, 31 May 2015 @ 11:09pm

    I hope Ed Snowden is eventually pardoned. He is a far more of a patriot than this shamelessly named piece of legislation.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2015 @ 1:28am

    SO for a few days they might be breaking the law running their illegal operations - I'm sure that'll stop em.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Jun 2015 @ 3:12am

    If we need a "USA Freedom" bill then we have already lost.

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

  • identicon
    noneya beeswax, 1 Jun 2015 @ 4:29am

    Why try

    Why try when illigal activity by the government just passes another law doing the same thing? What perverts. All this spying creates bad blood with are allies, helps recruit terrorist who already knew not to use any comms. That are run by the USA.this new law don't change how the nsa contractors steal pretty girl pics. And gather evidence against the public with no terrorist connections.(its really to help the war on drugs and political people.)

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

  • icon
    Steve Swafford (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 5:39am

    I still think that the NSA couldn't care less what is passed and by whom. They are going to do whatever the hell they want to do and nothing will ever keep them from doing it.

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 6:27am

      Re:

      I still think that the NSA couldn't care less what is passed and by whom. They are going to do whatever the hell they want to do and nothing will ever keep them from doing it.

      People keep saying this and it's simply not true. Not only that, but it hurts the efforts at real reform that many are working on because it's a cynical response that suggests nothing can be done. It's wrong.

      Yes, the NSA will push the boundaries, but it tends to push those boundaries by focusing on the legal authorities it has. Reform can and will work in limiting the NSA.

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

      • identicon
        Jason, 1 Jun 2015 @ 7:15am

        Re: Re:

        My biggest concern is that if the USA FREEDOM Act passes---as now seems likely---then that will be the end of it. Whatever positive steps it may take toward reform, it isn't enough, but I'm afraid the next steps will become that much harder once the first one is taken. After all, they "already did something" about that.

        Normally I'm against massive bills that try to cover a million different things all at once, but in this case I kind of wish we could get a bit more in there.

        Both of my Senators apparently voted to move ahead with USA FREEDOM, and I still can't decide whether I should get in touch and thank them or ask them to hold the line for a better law.

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

      • icon
        MarcAnthony (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 8:10am

        Re: Re:

        I don’t know, Mike. I’ve lost faith in their intention to respect the law. The NSA has a lot of power, operates in a veil of secrecy, and acts in extra-judicial ways with some regularity; surely they never reasonably believed that some piddling executive order and a clearly unconstitutional rubber stamp court gave them actual legal authority. They’ve also “pushed” so hard and so far that boundaries became practically nonexistent; e.g. Clapper brazenly lied under oath, and, by surveilling the legislative branch, the NSA threw our system of checks and balances right out of the window. We should all take anything our government says about surveillance activities with a well-deserved grain of salt.

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

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 9:00am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I’ve lost faith in their intention to respect the law. The NSA has a lot of power, operates in a veil of secrecy, and acts in extra-judicial ways with some regularity; surely they never reasonably believed that some piddling executive order and a clearly unconstitutional rubber stamp court gave them actual legal authority. They’ve also “pushed” so hard and so far that boundaries became practically nonexistent; e.g. Clapper brazenly lied under oath, and, by surveilling the legislative branch, the NSA threw our system of checks and balances right out of the window. We should all take anything our government says about surveillance activities with a well-deserved grain of salt.

          I absolutely agree that you shouldn't trust anything that they say. And I agree that they will push and probe and reinterpret things to try to get what they want.

          But... that's very different than the claim that some are making that they will flagrantly IGNORE the law and just do what they want.

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

          • icon
            GEMont (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 9:19am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "But... that's very different than the claim that some are making that they will flagrantly IGNORE the law and just do what they want."

            Well of course. They will definitely NOT just flagrantly ignore the law and do what they want. That would let the cat out of the bag.

            If they cannot blackmail lawmakers into changing the law so that they CAN continue to do what they want, then they will simply; once again, secretly reinterpret the new laws and continue to do what they want, knowing full well that there are no consequences for pretending to misunderstand the letter of the law should they be caught and called onto the carpet once again.

            Not a single hour of global surveillance will be lost through this legislation, regardless of what form it takes.

            The Agency has already moved its 215 offices to the new building months ago and has been operating under the radar ever since. Knowing that section 215 was threatened, they have already set up a new and better and completely secret operation to carry on the work and escalate the process unfettered.

            Remember; they are Hydra.

            Remove one surveillance operation and two more will take its place.

            ---

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

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 9:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I’ve lost faith in their intention to respect the law."

          You're ahead of me, then. I've never had such faith (because of their history over my lifetime).

          However, that doesn't mean that legislation is pointless at all. The point of passing such legislation isn't that they will magically start obeying the law. It's that if what they're doing is in violation of the law (and the information we currently have says it's not) then there is a chance of being able to hold them accountable.

          Right now, there is no such chance.

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

      • icon
        nasch (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 9:06am

        Re: Re:

        Yes, the NSA will push the boundaries, but it tends to push those boundaries by focusing on the legal authorities it has.

        And by making up new authorities that it was never given.

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

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 9:02am

    The Fascists Handbook - Sleight of Hand

    If Section 215 is allowed to sunset, even briefly, it simply means that section 216, the much broader, secret replacement for section 215, is now is full effect, along with secret section 217, which makes section 216 100% legal.

    Those who direct the spy agencies of the USA will NEVER take a REAL step backwards in their eternal search for more ways to control "The Adversary"; the American people, through blackmail, coercion and character assassination, made possible through these surveillance programs.

    Any apparent set backwards, is always just a PR move to cover their behind-the-scenes escalation of the powers of the surveillance state and its apparatus.

    Remember this always.

    The US Spy-guys adopted the motto of Hydra:

    "Cut off one arm and two more take its place."

    They adopted this motto for a very simple reason.
    Its always been their modus operandi and for the same reasons as the comic book crime syndicate Hydra:

    Control.
    Profits.
    Yachts, Bimbos and Cocaine.

    ---

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

  • identicon
    wecv, 1 Jun 2015 @ 9:33am

    The first thing I thought when I read the Title was that 'USA Freedom' will pass us by shortly.

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

  • icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 1 Jun 2015 @ 10:58am

    Hurry, Hurry! Short-term offer!

    For Rent: Data storage center in Utah with excess capacity. SaaS, Big data analytics included. Won't last! Call now!

    http://goo.gl/9sJP1s

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


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