Even the man who wrote the notorious Patriot Act feels the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs are out of control and need to be limited. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who wrote the Patriot Act back in 2001, is preparing to introduce what he calls the USA Freedom Act in the House of Representatives.
Sensenbrenner has told the media that he thinks the NSA has gone too far and actually violated the Patriot Act. Yet it’s also apparent that Sensenbrenner thinks the Patriot Act is giving NSA too much leeway in surveillance. His new legislation specifically limits the agency’s activities. This comes as we also see cities going against the indefinite detention NDAA law.
What The USA Freedom Act Will Do
Here’s how the USA Freedom Act would limit surveillance:
It would ban the collection of metadata about communications, such as telephone calls and emails.
Surveillance would be restricted to specific targets.
The NSA would have to get permission from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court in order to conduct surveillance. It would also have to demonstrate that a person is an agent of a foreign power or a threat to the United States to begin surveillance.
The FISA Court would be required to publicize some of its decisions, including any rulings that amount to a change in law.
Technology and communications companies would have the ability to disclose the number of FIDA surveillance orders they received.
The law would make it illegal for intelligence agencies to intercept email and internet communications of Americans without a warrant.
It would create a privacy advocate that would monitor the FISA court and have the ability to appeal its decisions to higher courts. The advocate would be nominated by the President, but appointed by the court itself.
Sensenbrenner said that he and Rep. Jon Conyers (D.-Michigan) will introduce the USA Freedom Act in the House. Senator Pat Leahy (D-Vermont) will introduce the legislation in the Senate. Sensenbrenner believes that he and Leahy will be able to make a deal with other critics of surveillance and get a law restricting NSA activities passed. He didn’t say whether President Obama would sign such a law or veto it.