Posted on Oct 7, 2017 by Caleb Chen

These 13 House Reps sponsored a bill to legalize mass surveillance on Americans and called it the USA Liberty Act


usa liberty act

On October 6th, House Representative Goodlatte and 12 other Representatives proposed the USA Liberty Act (H.R. 3989) – which would renew the currently active NSA’s mass surveillance programs. We’ve known for the better part of a year that the Trump Administration intended to renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which would otherwise expire at the end of this year. Section 702 is used by the National Security Agency (NSA) to justify its controversial UPSTREAM and PRISM programs, which were revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013.

Section 702 permits the warrant-less targeting of foreign targets located in international places, not on US soil. However, in practice, the mass surveillance has picked up US citizens data – and the NSA refuses to state how many Americans’ are caught up in this surveillance database. However, the USA Liberty Act would codify this mass surveillance. The USA Liberty Act is an affront on the average American’s intelligence – and is even worse than the “Restoring Internet Freedom” Act put forth by these 9 Senators.

These are the 13 House Representatives that are sponsoring the poorly titled USA Liberty Act (H.R. 3989)

Rep. Goodlatte, Bob [R-VA-6]

Rep. Conyers, John, Jr. [D-MI-13]

Rep. Sensenbrenner, F. James, Jr. [R-WI-5]

Rep. Nadler, Jerrold [D-NY-10]

Rep. Smith, Lamar [R-TX-21]

Rep. Jackson Lee, Sheila [D-TX-18]

Rep. Collins, Doug [R-GA-9]

Rep. Johnson, Henry C. “Hank,” Jr. [D-GA-4]

Rep. Rutherford, John H. [R-FL-4]

Rep. Deutch, Theodore E. [D-FL-22]

Rep. Chabot, Steve [R-OH-1]

Rep. Raskin, Jamie [D-MD-8]

Rep. Johnson, Mike [R-LA-4]

The fact of the matter is, domestic law enforcement can still get a rubber stamp to view NSA collected data on Americans. The data shouldn’t be collected on Americans to begin with – but the legislation does nothing to address that, instead side stepping the issue with a flowery name and lip service to adding checks and balances to the FISA system. There aren’t any clauses that force the deletion of aggregated data after a certain period of time – and there isn’t a single mention of safeguards to prevent abuse of the system by those with access to it (even though such abuse has been revealed in the past).

But how can we stop terrorism without mass surveillance?

Patrick G. Eddington from the CATO Institute described the situation nicely:

“…it is important to remember that the underlying premise of the FISA Amendments Act and the PATRIOT Act—that 9/11 happened because we didn’t collect enough information on the terrorists prior to the attacks—has been refuted by the Congressional Joint Inquiry and the 9/11 Commission. This draft is proof that when it comes to rolling back unnecessary and ineffective mass surveillance programs, those facts simply don’t matter.”

Section 702 of FISA should not be extended – mass surveillance of Americans should not be allowed to be codified into law. If you are in the US the thought of this unconstitutional Internet surveillance continuing makes your blood boil, the right course of action is to reach out to Congress and let them know to “pull the plug on Internet spying programs.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a handy page with information that makes it easy to contact your House Representatives to let them know to vote against H.R. 3989.

About Caleb Chen

Caleb Chen is a digital currency and privacy advocate who believes we must #KeepOurNetFree, preferably through decentralization. Caleb holds a Master's in Digital Currency from the University of Nicosia as well as a Bachelor's from the University of Virginia. He feels that the world is moving towards a better tomorrow, bit by bit by Bitcoin.


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12 Comments

  1. Kaiser Basileus

    At this point, the government of the US is not legitimate. It does not represent either the desires OR the needs of the population of the country and has no mandate to rule, or legislate. All the criteria which make it a moral duty to overthrow are present.

    2 weeks ago
    Reply
    1. Pappy

      This government hasn’t been legitimate since 2000.

      2 weeks ago
      Reply
      1. C Randolph

        Agent of Putin?

        2 weeks ago
        Reply
    2. Johnny

      This is just sad, what have we come to…

      2 weeks ago
      Reply
    3. James Trip

      Don’t worry Trump already drained the swamp. No more of ths corrupt goverment! #MAGA #TRUMP2020

      2 weeks ago
      Reply
    4. Mike Honcho

      Unfortunately the reality of this is that it is a bipartisan bill. Even if the president did get a majority victory, this bill is not of his making. Both R and D support for this bill exists. If it passes, and Clinton was president, she will likely have signed it same as Donny will.

      2 weeks ago
      Reply
    5. Uknown

      This is the stuff our country does that make me sick and not want to be a party to. I didn’t join the military to support this.

      2 weeks ago
      Reply
    6. Bret

      Imagine that.. An elected govt of the richest most powerful nation the world has ever seen ONLY serving the top 5%!!

      2 weeks ago
      Reply
    7. Deez

      It’s aways great to see the bipartisan support for bills that the public doesn’t need or want.

      2 weeks ago
      Reply
  2. Kurt Lawson

    This headline does… not seem like an accurate characterization of the bill.

    2 weeks ago
    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    Y’all should actually read the bill. The author is technically correct in that it legalizes spying, but only in explicitly outlining what the government is allowed to do, instead of leaving it up to what’s implied they can do under FISA. In outlining what the government can spy on, surveillance activity is actually curtailed more than it is now. This bill, while not ideal, is an improvement to our current situation.

    Sources:
    An overview provided by the House Judiciary Committee – https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/100517-USA-Liberty-Act.pdf
    The current text of the bill – https://judiciary.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/USA-Liberty-Act-Bill-Text.pdf

    2 weeks ago
    Reply
  4. George Croner

    This is another of the absurdly overblown and misinformed internet screeds attacking a foreign intelligence collection program that was first passed in 2008, reauthorized by Congress in 2012, and thoroughly vetted by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board in 2014, which concluded that there has never been a single instance of an intentional violation of the law.

    The Section 702 Program was not “revealed” by Edward Snowden in 2013; by that time it had already been passed and then renewed by Congress, after thorough congressional debate, and authorized only with an extraordinary amount of congressional and executive branch oversight that made it the most scrutinized foreign intelligence collection program in U.S. history. What Snowden accomplished was to insure that all those foreign individuals and organizations lawfully targeted by the 702 Program pursuant to court order were made aware that their communications were likely being collected, analyzed and disseminated consistent with the foreign intelligence and counterintelligence needs of the U.S.

    If you want to fully understand how Section 702 is statutorily structured and how it operates in practice, as opposed to a misinformed four paragraphs that doesn’t even pretend to analyze the new legislation, read “The Clock is Ticking: Why Congress Needs to Renew America’s Most Important Intelligence Collection Program,” which has been published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute at fpri.org.

    1 week ago
    Reply