November 27, 2013
After passing through the Senate’s Intelligence Committee, the so-called “FISA Improvements Act” is poised to actually do the complete opposite of what its title implies. Instead of being an improvement to the bill that allows the NSA to spy on American citizens, the bill advocates the very unacceptable practices that threaten the privacy rights of American. Even worse, it weakens one of the few effective and powerful checks to the abuse of such programs, diminishing the accountability of government to their people.
Sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the bill aims to effectively legitimize the controversial data-collection programs used by the NSA. Seen as completely unconstitutional by many, those data-collection programs collect records of online data — both domestic and foreign. Feinstein herself claims the complete opposite, saying that the bill would prohibit mass data collection, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation says otherwise, stating the bill is “designed to bolster some of the worst NSA surveillance programs and grant new authority to the NSA to engage in surveillance.”
Indeed, after reading a little of the bill myself, it became clear that while the bill doesn’t allow the content of communications may not be collected (which was supposedly the case before), it still allows the NSA to continue collecting the related metadata, which was the very reason why the programs were controversial in the first place.