U.S. House passes bill to curb NSA’s data collection programs; Apple opposes over ‘unacceptable loophole ‘

“The U.S. House of Representatives voted to curb some National Security Agency powers in legislation that Internet companies and privacy advocates said won’t do enough to prevent spying on innocent Americans,” Chris Strohm and Derek Wallbank report for Bloomberg. “The bill, approved 303-121 today, would end one of the most controversial domestic spy programs under which the NSA collects and stores as much as five years of phone records on Americans. The bill arrives almost one year after the spying was exposed in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.”

“A group of technology companies, including Facebook Inc., Google Inc. and Apple Inc., opposed the bill because of what it called an ‘unacceptable loophole that could enable the bulk collection of Internet users’ data.’ Some lawmakers who voted against it agreed the legislation should have been stronger,” Strohm and Wallbank report. “The bill is H.R. 3361 and would still need to be approved by the Senate before being sent to President Barack Obama. The White House yesterday said the president supports the measure because its ‘significant reforms would provide the public greater confidence in our programs and the checks and balances in the system.'”

“Representative James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican and chief sponsor of the legislation, said negotiations with the Obama administration “were intense” and the bill will prevent the NSA from collecting records in bulk,” Strohm and Wallbank report. “‘We had to make compromises,’ Sensenbrenner said. ‘But this bill still does deserve support. Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.’ Sensenbrenner said passing the bill ‘is a first step and not a final step in our efforts to reform surveillance.’ ‘We have turned the tables on the NSA and can say to them: we are watching you.'”

“Representative Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, and Representative Ted Poe, a Texas Republican, said they supported the bill as drafted by the House Judiciary Committee. However, they said they couldn’t support the final changes made to the bill. ‘These changes appear to allow multiple interpretations as to what the NSA can and cannot do,’ Poe said on the House floor today. ‘The NSA is out of control. It seizes massive amounts of data on Americans without their consent,'” Strohm and Wallbank report. “Lawmakers, companies and privacy groups opposed to the bill mainly objected to language added that would allow the government to collect records that identify ‘a person, entity, account, address or device,’ which critics say is too broad.”

Read more in the full article here.

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12 Comments

  1. Zoe Lofgren: “We have learned that if we leave any ambiguity in the law, the intelligence agencies will run a truck right through that ambiguity.” Their own version of the Ryder truck at the WTC in 1993?

      1. Actually it was Nixon that was on watch on 9/11 when terrorists arranged to have a democratically elected government wiped out and replace by a despot dictator known as Pinochet.

        Oh wait, you are talking about that other 9/11, yeah I think I might have heard something about it but hey other than terrorists kicking each other in the balls helps keep the world safe it’s not really that news worthy.

  2. Obama said these “significant reforms would provide the public greater confidence in our programs and the checks and balances in the system.”

    Notice he didn’t say it would actually do anything, just that it would provide public confidence – pulling the wool over our eyes, and readily admitting so!

    1. You appear to be inserting a lot of your personal, pessimistic viewpoint into your interpretation of Obama’s statement. If you review hundreds of statements from a range of Administrations from both parties over the past several decades, I suspect that a fair number of them would be very similar in nature to this statement. I am not saying that your interpretation is necessarily wrong. But you don’t have any evidence to support it.

      What people have to decide is how much positive change is sufficient to garner support for a proposed change. The polarized government status that we have experienced over the past decade achieves very little progress of substance with its all or nothing mentality. Compromise is not only dead, but the very word has assumed terribly negative connotations within certain factions.

      Sometimes people happily assist in pulling the wool over their own eyes.

  3. Just like everything our elected officials do, it is all just for show. The legislation offers no protection to the public.

    Of course, when the NSA has private, sensitive information on all our elected officials, getting them to vote against the NSA is rather difficult.

    We really are doomed in the US.

  4. “Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.”

    Indeed. This bill seems to be a small step in the right direction. Datamining and advertisement firms — including Apple with its iAd crap — simply want the wild-west status quo. That is unacceptable. If the NSA is restricted from snooping and storing private data, then for-profit companies should also be restricted from doing the same without explicit user permissions.

    1. Right, no one, not private nor government, should snoop & store our internet data without our permission. The law could be a simple statement like that.

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