U.S. Senate Approves Bill Radically Increasing Corporate Surveillance Of Americans
Last night, the U.S. Senate voted to pass the USA Freedom Act, blocking any amendments that could have reformed the bill to provide greater protections from electronic surveillance. The legislation is in accord with the version passed in the House, so it is virtually guaranteed to advance to the White House to be signed into law.
Of the USA Freedom Act, Barack Obama says, “This legislation will strengthen civil liberty safeguards”. In reality, the USA Freedom Act does the opposite. It actually increases surveillance, merely shifting who does much of the surveillance.
There’s a big sleight of hand going on with the passage of this legislation. In all their arguments about the USA Freedom Act, most of the politicians in Washington D.C. have been working to get Americans to forget one thing: The baseline in the United States of America is a country without massive electronic surveillance of the American people. The Patriot Act is dead.
What the USA Freedom Act actually does is increase government surveillance of Americans, while also requiring an increase in corporate surveillance of Americans. Phone companies will now be required to keep extensive records of their users communications, enabling a new kind of corporate data-mining. Also, additional forms of government surveillance will be reinstated by the USA Freedom Act.
What’s more, many forms of electronic surveillance of Americans, and other unconstitutional searches and seizures of our private information by government spies will keep on going, without being reformed by the USA Freedom Act at all. For example, for many years, the FBI has been flying aircraft over metropolitan areas in the USA, gathering information from Americans’ private telephone calls and other cellular data communications. This practice continued even after the Patriot Act expired. Likewise, sneak and peek invasions of homes and private offices without search warrants, and without notification, will continue.
This abnormally high level of surveillance is being justified with claims that the government spying against Americans is needed to protect us from terrorism, but there is no evidence that the surveillance ever stopped any terrorist attack from taking place.
Only one Democrat, Tammy Baldwin, voted against the increase of government and corporate surveillance against Americans authorized by the USA Freedom Act.
Bernie Sanders voted against the increase in surveillance.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who just announced his presidential campaign this week, didn’t even bother to vote.