House to vote on reauthorizing the spy-enabling “Freedom Act”

House to vote on reauthorizing the spy-enabling “Freedom Act”

The New York Times reports that the U.S. House of Representatives will vote to reauthorize the USA Freedom Act as early as Wednesday.

As this site wrote about in coverage of the PCLOB’s report on the NSA Call Detail Record program, the USA FREEDOM Act was passed in 2015 after widespread outrage over the power that the NSA and other intelligence agencies have.

Among other things, the FREEDOM Act limited the number of hops the NSA could collect from 3 to 2. Hops are the degrees of separation in a phone call tree. If the NSA has a FISA Warrant for Alice and Alice calls Bob and Claire, the NSA can get a list of every phone call that Alice, Bob and Claire made – to anyone.

The reauthorization bill, unimaginatively titled the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2020, continues to let the FBI request “business records” under the FISA court without a warrant. It adds only a few limitations to this process. (I guess they don’t have time to do an Orwellian backronym this time).

The bill formally ends the NSA’s Call Detail Record program, but the NSA itself discontinued last year. A legal end to that program is a welcome development, but Congress will pat themselves on the back for effectively accomplishing nothing here.

We can still stop the reauthorization. Call your Representative at 203-919-7073 and tell them you oppose the bill.

“As my Representative, I’m calling to tell you to vote against the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2020. I’m calling on you to support privacy rights and the Fourth Amendment. This bill does not go far enough and only further enable the national surveillance state.”