New legislation aims at stalling NSA reform

The new bill would let the NSA hold on to bulk phone data already collected

A new bill introduced in the Senate aims to let the U.S. National Security Agency hold on for five years to phone records collected by the agency, while also making permanent some anti-terrorist provisions that have been criticized by civil rights groups.

Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, said Wednesday he would introduce the "Liberty Through Strength Act II" to require the federal government to hold on to the legacy phone metadata of Americans for five years and authorize its use for queries.

The Senator introduced last month legislation, also called the Liberty Through Strength Act, that would delay the end of the bulk collection of phone metadata of Americans by the NSA to Jan. 31, 2017, in the wake of security concerns after the terror attacks in Paris. The bill was introduced a little before the Thanksgiving break.

The government has in the meantime transitioned away from bulk phone data collection from Sunday under provisions of the USA Freedom Act, a law approved in June to place curbs on the bulk collection program, by leaving the phone records database in the hands of telecom operators, while allowing only a targeted search of the data by the NSA for investigations.

The new legislation proposed by Cotton aims, among other things, to make permanent "lone wolf" and "roving wiretap" provisions under the USA Patriot Act. The bill would also clarify the authority of the FBI to collect electronic communications transactional records from Internet firms.

The roving wiretap provision allows NSA to get a warrant from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court without being tied to a specific device or mode of communications or naming the person tracked, while the "lone wolf" provision allows the agency to get a warrant to monitor electronically a non-US person without proving he is part of a terror group.

Cotton is unlikely to get much support for his bill as the USA Freedom Act was passed with  broadbased support and the backing of the administration of President Barack Obama. But in the wake of the terrorist attacks last month in Paris there is growing concern that the government needs more powers to counter terrorists, including possibly backdoor access to encrypted communications,  which is opposed by civil rights groups.

The FISC is meanwhile considering a petition from the government to retain the bulk telephony metadata it has collected so far until Feb. 29 to verify the completeness and accuracy of call data records it collects under the new targeted program allowed under the USA Freedom Act. The agency also wants to hold on to records relevant to ongoing litigation.

On Wednesday, court-appointed amicus curiae, or friend of the court, Preston Burton, said that the proposed retention and limited access to the data for three more months would not be in violation of the USA Freedom Act, as its text does not "address squarely" what the government may or may not do with previously acquired data after the program ends. The court has yet to rule on the government request.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?