High-Five: House of Representatives Moves to Ban NSA’s ‘Backdoor Search’ Provision


Spencer Ackerman | The Guardian | June 20 2014

Surveillance reform gained new congressional momentum as the US House of Representatives unexpectedly and overwhelmingly endorsed stripping a major post-9/11 power from the National Security Agency late Thursday night.

By a substantial and bipartisan margin, 293 to 121, representatives moved to ban the NSA from searching warrantlessly through its troves of ostensibly foreign communications content for Americans' data, the so-called “backdoor search” provision revealed in August by the Guardian thanks to leaks from Edward Snowden.

The move barring funds for warrantless searches “using an identifier of a United States person” came as an amendment added by Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, and Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky, to the annual defense appropriations bill, considered a must-pass piece of legislation to fund the US military. Also banned is the NSA's ability, disclosed through the Snowden leaks, to secretly insert backdoor access to user data through hardware or communications services.

“I think it's the first time the House has had the opportunity to vote on the 4th Amendment and the NSA as a discrete item. It was an overwhelming vote,” Lofgren told the Guardian. She said the vote succeeded despite efforts of what she called “the intel establishment.”

It swiftly circumvented a carefully crafted legislative package, backed by the White House and the NSA, presenting President Obama with an uncomfortable choice about vetoing the entire half-trillion dollar spending bill.

That legislative package, known as the USA Freedom Act, had jettisoned a measure to ban backdoor searches in order to move the bill out of committee. Losing the backdoor-search prohibition prompted, in part, civil libertarian groups to abandon their support of the House version of the bill. Several senators, including Democrats Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, are seeking to reinstate the ban in the Senate version currently under judiciary committee consideration.

The NSA considers its ability to search for Americans' data through its massive collections of email, phone, text and other communications content a critical measure to discover terrorists and a sacrosanct prerogative. Its authorities to do so stem from a provision, called section 702, of a key 2008 surveillance law, the Fisa Amendments Act, which Obama endorsed as a legislator and presidential candidate.

During a March hearing of a government privacy board, lawyers for the intelligence community sharply disputed that such warrantless searches are illegal or unconstitutional, as civil libertarians consider self-evident.

Read Full Article

Tags: , , , , , ,


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on YouTube

New Title

NOTE: Email is optional. Do NOT enter it if you do NOT want it displayed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the articles on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use'...you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.
Send this to a friend