logo

Technology Feeds -


Surveillance After the USA Freedom Act: How Much Has Changed? Surveillance After the USA Freedom Act: How Much Has Changed?

- (Huffington) - 1 years, 10 months ago...

by Shayana Kadidal, Senior Managing Attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights It has been two and a half years since Edward Snowden's disclosures revealed the massive scope of our government's bulk surveillance of global telecommunications. The first document to be published from Snowden's trove showed that the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had ordered Verizon to turn over logs of all calls made to and from its customers. Of the many bulk surveillance programs Snowden brought to light, this "phone records" program has continued to attract the most attention, in part because its features - surveillance of everyone in a well-defined set of American customers, under an identified statutory authority (section 215 of the PATRIOT Act) - were tailor-made to be challenged in court. Two such challenges were successful and provoked, after years of vigorous debate, a piece of reform legislation: this summer's USA Freedom Act, which shut down the phone records program two and half weeks ago. Anyone who watched this week's Republican presidential debate could be excused for thinking that significant changes to post-9/11 electronic surveillance practices have taken place thanks to the work of Congress. But has anything really changed as a result of the court challenges and the changes in the law? I would argue that we have very little reason for comfort: that the NSA probably still collects bulk "metadata," like our phone records, that the government clearly still has access to such records even if it sits in the hands of private telecommunications companies, that bulk collection of the contents of our telecommunications is more or less unaffected, and that the main impact of the USA Freedom Act actually may have been to forestall review by the Supreme Court that might have given us more protection. Let me step back to explain some basics. First, the law treats surveillance of the content of your communications (what you say on a phone call, what you write in an email) differently from data about the "when/where/to whom" of those communications. Simplifying wildly, the former generally requires a court order (a warrant) within the United States, though if there are links abroad, a law passed with Senator Obama's vote, the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, allows the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to rubber stamp its collection in bulk. Surveillance under section 702 of the 2008 Act (the basis for the program called PRISM in Snowden's documents) is not significantly curtailed by the recent USA Freedom Act. But what about the metadata surveillance? In some ways, metadata is more useful to the government than content because content generally requires labor-intensive human analysis to become meaningful to the intelligence agencies. In contrast, the records of who you talk to and when you talked to them can be very revealing when analyzed by computer - like the social ...

see complete article.

Similar recent news articles...

-- Sorry, no results.

Popular news