Monday, June 1, 2015

Patriot Act

Well, the Senate couldn't get its act together one way or the other, so the provisions of the Patriot Act supposedly stopped. Does this mean the NSA really stopped collecting data about 8 pm last night? I doubt that. I think someone is still doing it, legal or not. The House passed a bill requiring telephone companies to hold Americans' metadata and give it to the NSA if a specific warrant is procured, but this bill failed because the Senate did not agree  With the controversial law expiring here are the effects for government: The FBI and NSA can continue to collect info via Section 215 of the wiretap provision if they began an investigation before June 1. New investigations can't use the roving wiretap rule and can't petition the secret FISA court for warrants to seize records. So, what is the impact? Are we more at risk for terrorist acts? Will investigators have a harder time identifying and finding and making cases against problem people? Will our civil liberties and privacy rights be strengthened? Rand Paul tried to seize the day with a filibuster against the Patriot Act. Will this benefit him politically? This all remains to be seen.The bottom line is that most Americans are not criminals nor terrorists and they do not want their bulk, data collected by the government and held for heaven knows how long without any reason. Somewhere down the road I want to know what they did with all our data, who they shared it with, and what it's final disposition, if any is. Insiders think that by mid-week the Senate will pass a new bill with more limited powers.  Read more about it here http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/30/politics/what-happens-if-the-patriot-act-provisions-expire/index
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Update: It is interesting that even though bulk collection of our data is a terrible invasion and abuse of privacy rights, many Americans believe it is necessary to combat terrorism, regardless of party affiliation.  However, there is an interesting divide among ages. 60% of those o 60 or older believe that having their data bulk collected and kept helps successfully combat terrorism, while 25% or fewer of younger Americans (35 or younger) do not believe the data collection really helps combat terrorism. I'm with the 25%. Still nobody is talking about how long and for what other purposes they are keeping the data.  Many are pushing for the new act, the USA Freedom Act, which will replace and change, somewhat the old Patriot Act.  Read more about it here http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/01/politics/poll-nsa-data-collection-cnn-orc/

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