October 28, 2013
It’s been about four months since Edward Snowden’s leaks on the NSA’s blanket surveillance programs outraged privacy and Internet activists the world over, spawning real-life protests, online petitions, and high quality parody videos. Some countries got so mad, they even talked of leaving the US-run Internet. Now, the policy may actually change. Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner will introduce an anti-NSA bill tomorrow in the House, and if it makes its winding way to becoming law, it will be a big step towards curtailing the NSA’s bulk metadata collection.
Wisconsin Rep. Sensenbrenner, along with 60 co-sponsors, aims to amend one section of the Patriot Act, Section 215, in a bill known as the United and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act—also known by its less-clunky acronym version, the USA Freedom Act.
Section 215 has been used by the Bush and Obama administrations as justification for broad spying activities. Rep. Sensenbrenner—who actually authored the Patriot Act—likened these blanketed spying activities to abuse. “The NSA has gone far beyond the intent of the Patriot Act, particularly in the accumulation and storage of metadata,” said Sensenbrenner in an interview with National Journal about the bill earlier this month. “Had Congress known that the Patriot Act had been used to collect metadata, the bill would have never been passed” as a response to the September 11th attacks.