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NSA-Reform Bill Fails In US Senate 135

New submitter Steven King writes with a link to The Daily Dot's report that the U.S. Senate has rejected the controversial USA Freedom Act, thus "all but guaranteeing that key provisions of the USA Patriot Act will expire"; had it passed, the bill would have allowed continued use of some mass data-collection practices, but with the addition of stronger oversight. From the article: The Senate failed to reach agreement on passage of the USA Freedom Act, a bill to reauthorize and reform Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, which the government has used to conduct bulk surveillance of Americans' phone records. The House of Representatives passed the bill last week by an overwhelming bipartisan majority, but Senate Democrats, who unified behind the bill, did not get enough Republican votes to assure passage. The linked piece also mentions that the EFF shifted its position on this bill, after a panel of Federal judges ruled that the Feds at the NSA had overstepped their bounds in collecting a seemingly unlimited trove of metadata relating to American citizen's phone calls.
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NSA-Reform Bill Fails In US Senate

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  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @02:56AM (#49757165) Journal

    An 'emergency order' will extend the rule until Congress comes back from a very well deserved vacation from their hard work :-/

    • I like how you italicized "well deserved".
      Is that well they deserve deep, wet, and dark? :P
    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      An 'emergency order' will extend the rule until Congress comes back from a very well deserved vacation

      Not likely. The executive does not have the authority to extend a law that congress decided to let lapse.

      If congress does not take action to re-authorize, then the authorization is gone effective immediately at the date of expiration; not at the date it is most convenient for the NSA or others.

      • You know it just doesn't matter. They are going to do it anyway, and everybody will keep on believing their denials and reelecting the same old politicians who make it all happen. Nothing changed in '75 either, when we went through all this same shit before.

    • by wallsg ( 58203 )

      You are probably right. President Obama has changed/extended statutory deadlines several times by executive fiat. If he can ignore laws he doesn't like and invent new ones from whole cloth that he can't get passed otherwise, and be applauded for it by people who prefer "results" over Constitutional limitations on powers, then why does he even need this extension anyway? He can just declare that the program will continue because he's "administratively" extended the deadline. He can even declare (with som

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 23, 2015 @03:35AM (#49757241)

    Now the NSA will feel compelled to stage a domestic terrorist act in cooperation with the FBI in order to make their point, needlessly endangering the life of Americans. Do you really want another 9/11?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Now the NSA will feel compelled to stage a domestic terrorist act in cooperation with the FBI in order to make their point, needlessly endangering the life of Americans. Do you really want another 9/11?

      You are crazy. Here is an example of the democratic process working, yet you desperately have to search for some conspiracy theory to continue your irrational hatred of the USA. This is real life, not a Tom Clancy novel.

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        But real life is so boring. Let him have his paranoid fantasies.

      • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

        You are crazy. Here is an example of the democratic process working, yet you desperately have to search for some conspiracy theory to continue your irrational hatred of the USA.

        No. It's an example of a republic not working. What history books tend to call "decline and fall" when it's happened in the past. It is what happens when governments completely lose sight of, and concern with, and respect for, the principles that brought them into being.

        This is real life, not a Tom Clancy novel.

        Oh, we know. In Cla

  • by binarstu ( 720435 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @03:45AM (#49757261)

    It's hard to predict what the end result of this will be.

    On the one hand, I can imagine that letting the mass spying provisions expire, and forcing the bulk data collection to stop, could actually be a win for privacy in the long run. After all, inertia is powerful, especially in politics. It is much easier and less controversial to say, "let's continue with our existing domestic spying program" than it is to say, "now that we stopped spying on everyone for a while, let's start spying on everyone again."

    On the other hand, letting everything expire could create an environment where it becomes easy for fear to rule the day (or, easier than usual). We'll no doubt have politicians eager to scare us with stories of how letting bulk domestic surveillance expire makes us unsafe and vulnerable to terrorists, and so "we need to do something now before we die!" Then, new spying legislation could be hastily pushed through that is no better (or worse, depending on your perspective) than what we have now.

    As I said, I think it is hard to predict the ultimate outcome, but if the recent past is any indicator, I sadly suspect that fear will win.

  • American habit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 23, 2015 @03:45AM (#49757265)

    ... the U.S. Senate has rejected a controversial bill

    We know how this works: Issue an emergency order until a bare-bones bill allowing basic programs can be passed by US congress. Then secretly append the nasty schedules of the failed bill into necessary bills such as bills of supply. The military-industrial complex will get the laws they want sooner rather than later.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ... the U.S. Senate has rejected a controversial bill

      We know how this works: Issue an emergency order until a bare-bones bill allowing basic programs can be passed by US congress. Then secretly append the nasty schedules of the failed bill into necessary bills such as bills of supply. The military-industrial complex will get the laws they want sooner rather than later.

      all this and they are still whining about not being able to read Hillary's Bengazi emails?
      I officially call Shenanigans!

      Hey Congress and Senate! I got your meta data right here!

      • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

        I don't get how they don't have her e-mails. The fucking NSA has everyone else e-mail, why don't they have Hillary's?

        • I don't get how they don't have her e-mails. The fucking NSA has everyone else e-mail, why don't they have Hillary's?

          They have Hillary's emails. They are just being polite. After all, there is a fairly good chance she will be the next PO(TU)S. Don't want to piss off your boss right off the bat.

    • They already tried that to some extent. McConnell tried to get a 1 day extension through and got shutdown. They've got one more day to try it again, the 31st, when they come back from their weeklong holiday.

      I'm wondering though if it isn't possible for the senators that want it passed to come back early and sneak it through before the senate is supposed to reconvene. I don't really know enough about procedural rules and whatnot to know if that is even possible.

      • I'm wondering though if it isn't possible for the senators that want it passed to come back early and sneak it through before the senate is supposed to reconvene. I don't really know enough about procedural rules and whatnot to know if that is even possible.

        Unless the Senators you speak of constitute a quorum, not even a ghost of a chance of it being legal. And if they have that many Senators who want to pass this, then they wouldn't need to bother playing games....

        • Apparently a quorum requires 51 senators be present. They had enough to get 57 votes already so presumably they have enough to have a quorum. However it isn't help up on that point, they have to vote for cloture which requires 60 votes. They were short 3 votes, so if over this next week they can pickup those 3 they could do it on the sly. However at that point they wouldn't need to do it on the sly anyways. Here's to hoping that all the opposing senators hold their ground.

  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @03:53AM (#49757273)
    "USA Freedom Act" - what evil manipulative piece of shit gave that name to a bill on communication monitoring?
  • dailydot TFA is here (Score:5, Informative)

    by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @03:57AM (#49757279) Journal
  • Looks like the NSA hasn't gathered enough blackmail material while they were spying on our politicians to get that extension. Better luck next time.

    Just kidding -- expect to see an extension without any reform.

    • Just kidding -- expect to see an extension without any reform.

      Or they'll just say they stopped but keep on doing it.

      I'll be astonished if they aren't already doing more than we know about.

  • Let's just say it... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @04:07AM (#49757301)

    there's no way they're building the data centers they are just to record metadata. It would be absurd to believe they're not recording the calls or having a third party do it. Or... does "metadata" include, for example, a series of hashes of the call content that lets you reproduce them with 98% accuracy, for example? :) It's just data about the call, after all...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      there's no way they're building the data centers they are just to record metadata. It would be absurd to believe they're not recording the calls or having a third party do it.

      There will be enough customers for the data even if the U.S. government as a tier one customer is not interested. I am pretty sure that the NSA already has contingency plans in case the U.S. government is no longer interested in financing the collapse of privacy.

    • They have secret rooms in the telco switch buildings, giving full access to everything. If all they wanted was meta-data they could just have the telco email the list.
    • "It would be absurd to believe they're not recording the calls": Is your tin hat crooked today?

      • "It would be absurd to believe they're not recording the calls": Is your tin hat crooked today?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        Which is more likely : (1) the best-funded signals intelligence apparatus in the world is lying by choosing their words carefully and, while they likely have *some* limits on how they are allowed to search US-based data, they still keep it or arrange for someone else to in case they have to search it later, or (2) this top secret program is being transparent and 100% non-deceptive?

        Remember, they have a history of lying to Congress and the public, of conducting massive surve

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They rejected Freedom.

    A minority rejected Freedom on behalf of an entire countries population...

    Yep.

  • The EFF still has some pull. That's my take on this. Enough people listened that their support, or lack thereof, made a substantial difference to political support behind the bill. And that's damn good news.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hmm, that tablet of Lady Liberty in the NY harbour, is actually a large iPad, on which she writes down the metadata of everything you do...

  • It pisses me off to no end that they can just violate our rights all they want, do it for years on end, then....no harm no foul in the end.

    There is no scenario to my mind where every person involved should be walking free in the sunlight. Every single analyst, every politician, every single person who knew the facts and didn't turn them in.

    All broke the law, all are guilty and deserve to be made individual example of for they are each individually 100% guilty of what they did.

  • The Freedom (to spy on citizens) Act.

  • Support Ron Wyden (Score:5, Informative)

    by n3r0.m4dski11z ( 447312 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @10:20AM (#49758289) Homepage Journal

    Never heard of him before I read this article.

    If you had any shred of respect for obama still left, this article will destroy it

    http://www.newyorker.com/magaz... [newyorker.com]

    He is the only one fighting for the rights of americans to not be spied upon. Its a shame that 2 years after this article was written, people are caring less and less about these issues. For a while there in 2013, it looked like people really did care.

  • by Lawrence_Bird ( 67278 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @10:27AM (#49758321) Homepage

    as it omits (this from the NYT)

    After the two bills failed, Mr. McConnell offered a series of agreements to pass ever-shorter extensions, including one for a single day, that required the full consent of the Senate. But Mr. Paul, joined by the Democratic Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, objected — leaving the matter to next Sunday.

    “This is a debate about whether or not a warrant with a single name of a single company can be used to collect all the records,” Mr. Paul said. “All of the phone records of all of the people in our country with a single warrant. Our forefathers would be aghast.

    Mr. Paul has made clear that he wants the House bill, known as the USA Freedom Act, brought to the floor with an open amendment process so he can have the chance to toughen it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The NSA spying programs on the citizens of the USA represent the LAST means for democracy in the USA.

    The 'treasure trove' of telecommunications meta-data and voice communications of members of the USA Federal Government and State Governments coupled to FOIA represents the only way ordinary citizens of the USA can blackmail and extort the President and WhiteHouse Staff, the Federal Departments and Staffs, the Congress and congressional staffs and the Supreme Court and Staffs going down to the district court

  • There is no mention in the article of Sen Rand's filibuster opposing the bill.
    I presume that when the article says that they could not get enough Republican votes they mean they did not get enough to override the filibuster?

    (I'm Canadian and so not as knowledgeable about american political procedures as I could be.)

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