It’s One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, With New NSA Bill

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Posted 2 years ago

HR

2000px-US-Congress-UnofficialSeal.svgA controversial bill that focuses on a federal government agency’s ability to perform widespread surveillance on citizens is now poised for a vote in the Senate.

The bill, H.R. 2048, is a response to the outcry over the National Security Agency’s previous bulk collection of data from citizens that was revealed in 2013 by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

It was crafted by both Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives, and with assistance from privacy advocates who they consulted.

However, as the USA Freedom Act does place limits on the NSA, they would still be allowed to collect information such as records of international money transfers and Internet Protocol addresses used on search engines like Google.

Some privacy advocates are hailing this as a victory, but as Neema Singh Giuliani of the American Civil Liberties Union states,“The intent is to narrow collection, but the reality is it’s written in such a way that it’s ambiguous.” Those who assisted in the writing of the bill admitted that they had to make concessions to satisfy both political parties.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky surprised many by allowing the bill to come to a vote Thursday on the floor; he had rejected a similar measure brought to the Senate last year.

But it might be more political gamesmanship afoot, as Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky tried to hold up the vote by initiating a debate on the floor that lasted over eight hours.

If the USA Freedom Act isn’t passed, three of the programs under the Patriot Act are set to expire within the next two weeks.

If that occurs, it would be perceived badly that this could happen on the watch of the GOP who control both the House and Senate.

Christopher A. Smith

HR

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