May 25 2014

Promises, promises…

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Spencer Ackerman at The Guardian, May 22/14:

“It does not deserve the name ‘USA Freedom Act’ any more than the ‘Patriot Act’ merits its moniker,” wrote four former NSA whistleblowers and their old ally on the House intelligence committee staff.

The former NSA officials – Thomas Drake, William Binney, Edward Loomis and J Kirk Wiebe – and former congressional staffer Diane Roark denounced 11th-hour changes to the Freedom Act as resulting in “a very weak” bill.


Most significantly, the version emerging from the rules committee expanded the definition of a “specific selection term,” the root thing – formerly defined as information that “uniquely describe[s] a person, entity, or account” – the government must present to a judge, with suspicion of connection of terrorism or espionage, in order to collect data under the bill.

The new definition is “a discrete term, such as” a person, entity, account, “address or device”. That revision has spurred privacy advocates and even major technology companies to doubt that the bill will actually ban the mass collection of Americans’ data, its ostensible purpose.

A coalition of the US’s largest technology companies – including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, AOL, Dropbox, Twitter, Yahoo and LinkedIn – warned that definition created an “unacceptable loophole that could enable the bulk collection of internet users’ data”.

NSA reform bill loses backing from privacy advocates after major revisions


  1. Edger

    “Allowing the NSA to consult on cryptographic standards is like consulting with a shoplifter on the design of your store alarm system,” Amie Stepanovich of the digital-rights group Access said in a statement.

    Practically the only entity that lent its support to the USA Freedom Act on Wednesday was the White House.

    …he did promise transparency.

    Anyone left who still has trouble seeing through him?

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