Mike Masnick writes:
We already knew that Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner was getting ready to release a major new anti-NSA spying bill called the USA Freedom Act, and Derek Khanna has just revealed many of the details of the bill, scheduled to be introduced in both houses of Congress this coming Tuesday. It will be backed by Sensenbrenner in the House and Pat Leahy in the Senate, and will have plenty of co-sponsors (already about 50 have signed up) including some who had initially voted against the Amash Amendment back in July. In other words, this bill has a very high likelihood of actually passing, though I imagine that the intelligence community, and potentially the White House, will push back on it. For Congress, gathering up a veto-proof majority may be a more difficult task.
The bill appears to do a number of good things, focusing on limiting the NSA’s ability to do dragnet collections, rather than specific and targeted data collection, while also significantly increasing transparency of the activities of the NSA as well as the FISA court when it comes to rulings that interpret the law.
Read more about what the bill includes on TechDirt.
From Rep. Sensenbrenner’s site:
THE USA FREEDOM ACT
Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act
Purpose: To rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.
End bulk collection of Americans’ communications records
• The USA Freedom Act ends bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
• The bill would strengthen the prohibition on “reverse targeting” of Americans—that is, targeting a foreigner with the goal of obtaining communications involving an American.
• The bill requires the government to more aggressively filter and discard information about Americans accidentally collected through PRISM and related programs.
Reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
• The USA Freedom Act creates an Office of the Special Advocate (OSA) tasked with promoting privacy interests before the FISA court’s closed proceedings. The OSA will have the authority to appeal decisions of the FISA court.
• The bill creates new and more robust reporting requirements to ensure that Congress is aware of actions by the FISC and intelligence community as a whole.
• The bill would grant the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board subpoena authority to investigate issues related to privacy and national security.
• The USA Freedom Act would end secret laws by requiring the Attorney General to publicly disclose all FISC decisions issued after July 10, 2003 that contain a significant construction or interpretation of law.
• Under the bill, Internet and telecom companies would be allowed to publicly report an estimate of (1) the number of FISA orders and national security letters received, (2) the number of such orders and letters complied with, and (3) the number of users or accounts on whom information was demanded under the orders and letters.
• The bill would require the government to make annual or semiannual public reports estimating the total number of individuals and U.S. persons that were subject to FISA orders authorizing electronic surveillance, pen/trap devices, and access to business records.National Security Letters
• The USA Freedom Act adopts a single standard for Section 215 and NSL protection to ensure the Administration doesn’t use different authorities to support bulk collection. It also adds a sunset date to NSLs requiring that Congress reauthorize the government’s authority thereby ensuring proper congressional review.