The NSA Reform Bill That Isn’t Pushes Forward

"The reforms! They do nothing!"California Democratic Sen.
Dianne Feinstein’s bill to “reform” the National Security Agency’s
surveillance systems is moving forward, having
passed a vote
in the Senate Intelligence Committee Agency,
11-4. Tech privacy experts are banging their faces against their
keyboards for good reason.

Here’s how Feinstein promotes the reform in her own
: “[It] prohibits the collection of bulk communication
records under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act except
under specific procedures and restrictions set forth in the
” Emphasis added.

The specific procedures and restrictions set forth? It’s what
they were already doing. This isn’t a ban. It’s
permission. The Electronic Frontier Foundation

Don’t be fooled: the bill codifies some of the NSA’s worst
practices, would be a huge setback for everyone’s privacy, and it
would permanently entrench the NSA’s collection of every phone
record held by U.S. telecoms. We urge members of Congress to oppose

We learned for the first time in June that the NSA secretly
twisted and re-interpreted Section 215 of the Patriot Act six years
ago to allow them to vacuum up every phone record in
America—continuing an unconstitutional program that began in 2001.
The new leaks about this mass surveillance program four months ago
have led to a sea change in how Americans view privacy, and poll
after poll has shown the public wants it to stop.

But instead of listening to her constituents, Sen. Feinstein put
forth a bill designed to allow the NSA to monitor their calls. Sen.
Feinstein wants the NSA to continue to collect the metadata of
every phone call in the United States—that’s who you call, who
calls you, the time and length of the conversation, and under the
government’s interpretation, potentially your location—and store it
for five years. This is not an NSA reform bill, it’s an NSA
entrenchment bill.

Other parts of the bill claim to bring a modicum of transparency
to small parts of the NSA, but requiring some modest reporting
requirements, like how many times NSA searches this database and
audit trails for who does the searching.

But its real goal seems to be to just paint a veneer of
transparency over still deeply secret programs. It does nothing to
stop NSA from weakening entire encryption systems, it does nothing
to stop them from hacking into the communications links of Google
and Yahoo’s data centers, and it does nothing to reform the PRISM
Internet surveillance program.

Reason’s Ron Bailey previously
about this terrible legislation and noted the much
better alternatives by other congressmen that actually would limit
bulk data collection and preserve Americans’ online privacy.


from Hit & Run

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