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Small Band In Congress Moves To Revoke New Big Brother Spying Program In The U.S. Federal Government

A month ago, the U.S. Congress took advantage of the holly jolly avoidance of serious news that takes place every December in order to betray one of its central achievements in 2015.

Back in Spring 2015, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, a law that was supposed to end NSA spying against law-abiding Americans through the Internet, cell phones, and other electronic communications. Actually, the USA Freedom Act only outsourced electronic spying, forcing companies to spy on the private activities of their customers, and make that data available to government spies on demand. There were a few safeguards in the USA Freedom Act, but there were huge loopholes in the legislation as well, allowing those safeguards to be easily evaded. Congress pretended to be dismantling the electronic surveillance abuses of the NSA, but really, it was a shell game, in which the locus of surveillance was moved, but not much reduced.

In December 2015, Congress strengthened the electronic Big Brother spying regime with the passage of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015. In the conference version of the Cybersecurity Act,

– Provisions that would have required personal information to be scrubbed from electronic information before it is given to government spying agencies were completely removed.

– Provisions that would have banned the NSA from receiving electronic information seized under CISA authority were fully deleted.

– Congress created a new loophole to cover the tracks of government spies, writing in an exemption to the Freedom of Information Act, prohibiting American journalists from finding out how much the government is spying on peaceful, law-abiding Americans.

That’s the bad news. This week, we saw a little bit of good news. In the U.S. House of Representatives, a small band is trying to repeal the Cybersecurity Act. H.R. 4350 is very simple to understand. Its active clause simply reads: “The Cybersecurity Act of 2015 (division N of Public Law 114–113) and the amendments made by such Act are repealed, and the provisions of law amended by such Act are hereby restored as if such Act had not been enacted into law.”

This legislation is currently being supported by Justin Amash, John Conyers, Zoe Lofgren, Mr. Thomas Massie, Ted Poe of Texas, and Jared Polis.

Given that there are over 400 U.S. Representatives, the chances are that your U.S. representative is not in this group.

On Monday, call your representative through the congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask why he or she hasn’t co-sponsored H.R. 4350 yet.

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