` United States House of Representatives Approve Surveillance Reform Bill 303 – 121 in Favour of USA Freedom Act ‘

#AceBreakingNews – WASHINGTON – May 22 – The United States House of Representatives approved a surveillance reform bill early Thursday that aims to address controversial National Security Agency programs but falls well short of doing so, according to privacy advocates.

In Washington, DC, the House voted 303-to-121 on Thursday morning in favour of the USA Freedom Act, which includes a provision that the bill’s authors say will halt the US government’s bulk collection of telephone metadata.

One day earlier, the White House endorsed the bill and said in a statement that its “significant reforms would provide the public greater confidence in our programs and the checks and balances in the system.”

“It ends collection of all bulk metadata by the government,” Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Maryland) a supporter of the bill, told his colleagues on the floor of Congress before Thursday’s vote.

According to an outline provided by the bill’s authors, if approved the act would “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.”

In its current form, however, critics say it lacks the sufficient provisions to truly put a dent in the NSA’s spy programs. The Electronic Frontier Foundation this week accused the latest version of the act to have been “gutted” of its most crucial parts and “doesn’t achieve the goal of ending mass spying.”

Although the USA Freedom Act originally contained provisions that would allow companies to more fully discuss requests for data they receive from the government and install a civil liberties advocate to audit the FISA Court’s operations, those were removed ahead of Thursday’s vote.

“We are glad that the House added a clause to the bill clarifying the content of communications cannot be obtained with Section 215,” the EFF said in a statement on Tuesday, referring to the Patriot Act provision that opened the door for the NSA’s current operations. “Unfortunately, the bill’s changed definitions, the lack of substantial reform to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act and the inability to introduce a special advocate in the FISA Court severely weakens the bill.”

“This legislation was designed to prohibit bulk collection, but has been made so weak that it fails to adequately protect against mass, un-targeted collection of Americans’ private information,” added Nuala O’Connor, the president and CEO of the Centre for Democracy and Technology.

Ace Related News:
1. RT – 22/05/2014 – http://tinyurl.com/pq92v4y
2. EFF – 22/05/2104 – https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/05/eff-dismayed-houses-gutted-usa-freedom-act
3. Sense Brenner House 22/05 /2014 – http://sensenbrenner.house.gov/legislation/theusafreedomact.htm

#ANS2014

#electronic-frontier-foundation, #foreign-intelligence-survielllance-court-fisc, #national-security-agency, #national-security-agency-nsa, #united-states, #us-foreign-intelligence-surveillance-court-fisa, #washington

` White House Seeks to Obtain Legislator's Approval over Legal Immunity for Companies Handing over Data '

#AceSecurityNews – WASHINGTON – WHITE HOUSE – (Guardian) – The White House has asked legislators crafting competing reforms of the National Security Agency to provide legal immunity for telecommunications firms that provide the government with customer data, the Guardian has learned.

In a statement of principles privately delivered to lawmakers some weeks ago to guide surveillance reforms, the White House said it wanted legislation protecting “any person who complies in good faith with an order to produce records” from legal liability for complying with court orders for phone records to the government once the NSA no longer collects the data in bulk.

The brief request, contained in a four-page document, echoes a highly controversial provision of the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act, which provided retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that allowed the NSA to access calls and call data between Americans and foreigners, voiding lawsuits against them. Barack Obama’s vote for that bill as a senator and presidential candidate disappointed many supporters.

(PressTV) – A senior US administration official described the provision as typical for surveillance law that aims to protect firms that comply with Fisa court orders for customer data.

“This would refer to any new orders issued by the court under the new regime we are proposing. This is similar to the way the rest of Fisa already operates, and Fisa already contains virtually identical language for its other provisions, including Section 215,” the official stated.

A congressional aide said such companies were anticipated to “fight hard” for the provision in order to survive in any other surveillance bill.

Press TV – Guardian
Fisa 2008 Act – http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-110hr6304enr/pdf/BILLS-110hr6304enr.pdf

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#national-security-agency, #nsa, #us-foreign-intelligence-surveillance-court-fisa, #washington, #white-house

#FISA : Civil Liberties are abused by approval or denial of `Surveillance Warrants ‘ against `Foreign Enemies ‘ living in US ‘

#AceSecurityNews says that RT reported this week about the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (also known as the FISA Court) was established in 1978 as a gatekeeper that would approve or deny surveillance warrants against suspect foreign enemies living inside the United States.

Since that date, the court has denied 11 of the nearly 34,000 surveillance requests by the government.

While judges on the court have said that they force the government to make changes to approximately one-quarter of those requests, the .03 percent decline rate has been startling to civil liberties advocates.

#ASN2014

#rt, #united-states, #us-foreign-intelligence-surveillance-court-fisa