A great deal has been made of the movement out of committee of the USA FREEDOM ACT in the House of Representatives. The bill is intended to address the rampant abuses of surveillance power that have arisen as a result of the hasty passage of the Patriot Act.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, while it celebrates that Congress is at least doing something to deal with the terrible legacy of the Patriot Act, notes that the USA FREEDOM ACT has the following flaws:
- “the bill allows prospective collection—collection of records that have not yet been created—up to 180 days.”
- “the bill fails to fix the “backdoor loophole,” in which the NSA interprets the law to allow searches of the data collected under Section 702 for the purpose of finding communications of a United States person.”
- “the bill must go further and introduce a special privacy advocate who can review, challenge, and appeal orders in the highly secretive FISA Court orders.”
- “this legislation should provide stronger transparency provisions to ensure that users know, with as much granularity as possible, how and when the government issues orders for user data and how many accounts are affected.”
- “we urge Congress to acknowledge that non U.S. persons have fundamental rights to privacy, and NSA surveillance should be the minimum necessary to achieve a desired result and proportionate to the actual threat.”
Will the USA FREEDOM ACT protect you from Big Brother at the NSA? Until these problems in the legislation are dealt with, you can’t be sure. Remember, just one year ago, the Obama Administration insisted it wasn’t engaging in any largescale electronic dragnet surveillance involving Americans at all.