Jul 292014
 July 29, 2014  Posted by  Featured News, Laws, Surveillance

Senator Leahy’s USA FREEDOM Act has been released. I’ll update this post with links to analyses and commentaries later today and tomorrow, as I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

First up: EFF calls the bill “a meaningful first step,” but notes what the bill doesn’t do:

First and foremost, the USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 does not adequately address Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, the problematic 2008 law that the government argues gives it the right to engage in mass Internet surveillance. We remain committed to reform of Section 702. We intend to pursue further reforms to end the NSA’s abuse of this authority.

The legislation also does not affect Executive Order 12333, which has been interpreted by the NSA to allow extensive spying both on foreigners and U.S. citizens abroad. Strictly speaking, we don’t need Congress to fix this—the President could do it himself—but legislation would ensure that a later President couldn’t reinstate 12333 on her or his own.

The legislation may not completely end suspicionless surveillance. With respect to call detail records, it allows the NSA to get a second set of records (a second “hop”) with an undefined “direct connection” to the first specific selection term.  Because the “direct connection” standard is vague, the government may seek to construe that phrase to mean less than reasonable suspicion.

Finally, as with all legislation up to this point, the new USA FREEDOM continues to exclude meaningful protections for the rights of non-U.S. persons.

Second up: Jennifer Granick on JustSecurity: Sen. Leahy’s Latest NSA bill: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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