back to article Europe, SAVE US! Patriot Act author begs for help to curb NSA spying

US House Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, the lead author of controversial anti-terror law the Patriot Act, has asked the European Parliament for help in taming the NSA. He also called for Europe to put pressure on the US to change its legislation and bring a halt to the spy agency's planet-wide communications data-slurping …

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  1. frank ly Silver badge

    In summary

    The government of the USA is incapable of controlling one of it's own agencies or formulating laws that have the originally intended effect. That's probably quite common across Europe as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why would they want to spy on you?

      Do you really think you are important enough to warrant them spying on you......

      Hold on, someone at the door....

    2. Al_21

      Re: In summary

      Who said the government isn't controlling the agency?

      The government?

      Yeh, must be true then.

    3. Schultz
      Black Helicopters

      The government of the USA is incapable of controlling one of it's own agencies ...

      The more fundamental question question is whether democracy still works as intended. Obama promised great transparency and reforms before being elected but didn't follow through on any of it. Is he just a weak president? Or is there a systemic problem that the president just really control the bureaucracy anymore? Or did someone dig up enough dirt to keep him quiet? Nice ground for conspiracy theories.

      Will future elected governments be able to fulfill the will of the electorate?

  2. btrower

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    It is good that they stop the NSA. However, I worry if this will end up somehow validating what still sounds like bad legislation.

    They already have the necessary law. It is called the Constitution of the United States. That law is crystal clear about what is allowed and what the NSA does is not in the 'allowed' category.

    1. Eguro

      Re: Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

      While the constitution provides checks for some of these things, I'm not sure I've seen the part prohibiting the NSA from spying on Merkel - which according to the good senator was the case in point.

      Surely you don't think he cares about American citizens?

      1. Gannon (J.) Dick

        Re: Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

        "Surely you don't think he cares about American citizens?"

        Well there's the thing, in the bizzaro world of US Politics, you can't prohibit the NSA from listening in on Chancellor Merkel because that would cast doubt on the efficacy of Silicon Valley's unlimited tracking of the buying habits of 7 year old Angie Merkellino of Cozad, Nebraska.

        By weeding out noise from misspellings and Foreign Heads of State many of whom act like 7 year olds the NSA performs a valuable free service for Big Data.

        I know you hate Capitalism, are you a Communist or a Muslim ? Oh, never mind.

  3. Mike Wilson

    USA FREEDOM Act.

    Is it possible to get legislation passed in the USA without a good acronym? Some of these legislators must have a team of acronymists working for them.

    1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

      Re: USA FREEDOM Act.

      Actually, it seems that they intentionally created this acronym to mirror the PATRIOT Act that the proposed bill is intended to balance. It is not such a terrible idea in the context (I wonder if anyone has a bit of mockery in mind), thought the original PATRIOT acronym was dismal and if this becomes a habit or tradition... well...

    2. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: USA FREEDOM Act.

      "Some of these legislators must have a team of acronymists working for them."

      A pity the same diligence wasn't applied to the actual legislation and it's possible consequences by the idiots that drafted it, and the idiots that voted for it. From four thousand miles away it was apparent to me as a rather disinterested and casual observer that the Patriot act was an unbelievably bad piece of legislation that was going to have a lot of undesirable consequences.

      Asking Europe for help is rather pointless when the UK government are similar enthusiasts for mass surveillance, and the rest of Europe can't decide any form of common position on matters of defence, finance, foreign policy (I suppose they did unite to decide to have a currency union, but that's not gone so well really).

      If I might offer Sensebrenner a helpful thought: You made this mess. You clear it up.

      1. Great Bu

        Acronymonious

        Wouldn't the -

        Understanding

        Simple

        Apiary

        Fundoscopy

        Regarding

        Extra

        Elements

        Digesting

        Our

        Mulberries

        - Act have been better ? (Makes at least as much sense as their version)

      2. btrower

        Re: USA FREEDOM Act.

        @Ledswinger:

        Well said. EOM

    3. Tikimon Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: USA FREEDOM Act. - basic propaganda tactic

      Old skull trick. Name your horrible legislation something warm and fuzzy that nobody can disagree with. What, you're not a PATRIOT? You don't believe in FREEDOM? You evil anarchist!!!

      It's the other side of the coin from Demonizing Your Enemies. Paint your opponents as babykillers and nobody will support them. Goes a long way to obscuring the truth of a debate, therefore used heavily in politics and the press. Grrr...

    4. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Re: USA FREEDOM Act.

      ... it will take me a while to stop laughing ...

      ...

      ...

      ...

      ... ok, I'm better. Good one.

      What I was going to say is ...

      I don't know what you pay MP's, but affording a "team" of matriculants from the London School of Acronomics is entirely out of question on a legislator's salary.

      1. Vic

        Re: USA FREEDOM Act.

        I don't know what you pay MP's, but affording a "team" of matriculants from the London School of Acronomics is entirely out of question on a legislator's salary.

        Running an election campaign is entirely out of question on a legislator's salary. But they do it...

        Vic.

    5. Gannon (J.) Dick
      Pint

      Re: USA FREEDOM Act.

      ... it will take me a while to stop laughing ...

      ...

      ...

      ...

      ... ok, I'm better. Good one.

      What I was going to say is ...

      I don't know what you pay MP's, but affording a "team" of matriculants from the London School of Acronomics is entirely out of question on a legislator's salary.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is spin

    It appears the US has realised it's pretty much over for US service providers if they want to sell to the EU unless they offer a sacrificial goat. But the mess is not a one-man show - it is a whole national infrastructure, and spying is not just performed by the NSA.

    The NSA is but one agency - the nation has legally thrown human rights, probable cause and due process out of the window. Unless supervision and transparency are restored and penalties follow (and I mean penalties and jail time, not parking tickets) all this is mere marketing. The US produces world's best BS too, so I am inclined to wait and see - this needs action, not just more words. Personally, I think the EU should cancel the Safe Harbour excuse to start with - that was one of the worst excuses ever not to do things properly.

  5. Gray
    Boffin

    It's really too late ...

    it's game over, lights out, draw the shades, and pretend everything is all okay, just like it used to was.

    No power granted or seized will ever be yielded, voluntarily or otherwise, until the governing body falls. As far as the President of the USA is concerned, he can be likened to the bloke manning the steering oar on a scow adrift down the Mississippi River. He can try to influence the direction but he cannot stop the barge nor take it back upstream. The nation is on a hell-bent course that no existing force can reverse.

    Senator Diane Feinstein's intentions, if not her proposed Bill, will prevail, and will become the new controlling authority for U.S. spy agencies. The White House will order a few cosmetic changes, stopping short of throwing the Chief of Staff to the wolves to silence the baying, and the barge will continue down the river.

    Don't want the NSA spying on your computer? Air-gap it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      WRONG

      There are plenty of ways to work against these insane machinations:

      1.) Take to the streets, Ghandi style. They won't stop 20 million people peacefully marching up to FtMeade. They might show their guns, but they also know they can't shoot millions. See the fall of the GDR.

      2.) Use Linux or xBSD. Much more difficult to subvert

      3.) Use Ciphers as a matter of principle: GNUpg, openssl, bcrypt or Scherbius2014. The latter one is quite simple to understand for beginners (a symmetric cipher).

      3.1) Important: If push comes to shove, RIGHTS ARE ASCERTAINED BY USING THEM. So do not cave in, use crypto by principle. Even for the most innocous message. Do not accept their "right" to read your messages based on some Divine Right Of Kings ("Terrorism", "Kiddo porn") argument.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: It's really too late ...

      @Gray - have a downvote for being a defeatist quisling.

      Your attitude is exactly what they want us to think - and if enough people are like you it becomes a sef fufilling prophecy.

      No argument based on apathy and defeatism should ever be listened too.

    3. BlueGreen

      Re: It's really too late ... @Gray

      as long as the lkes of you & matt bryant drip apathy and try to infect others, those with more focus and less principle will prevail.

      That's a long way of telling you to piss off, really. I don't like weak people.

  6. doronron

    William Hague admits Parliament & Ministers kept in dark

    In case you missed it, William Hague did an attack on the press a couple of days ago. One of the things he admitted was that Ministers and Parliament were kept in the dark about GCHQs surveillance programs, (even as they were debating the Snoopers Charter).

    http://www.theguardian.com/media/2013/nov/10/guardian-nsa-revelations-edward-snowden?CMP=twt_gu

    "Hague defended the fact that the full scope of surveillance by GCHQ was not discussed at the national security council or the cabinet. Last month, Chris Huhne used a Guardian article to complain that both bodies were kept in a state of "utter ignorance" about the programmes subsequently publicised by the Guardian,"

    " "That is the political and legal framework in which these decisions about intelligence are made. Are they made in much larger groups? Well, no they're not. That's because so much of what we do has to be so secret."

    So while Theresa May was telling Parliament that Snoopers Charter was needed because GCHQ needed the metadata, nobody was telling them that GCHQ was already capturing EVERYTHING and most of it on Brits.

    You may think your viewing of this article from Britain to elReg in Britain is not spied upon by GCHQ, but look again and you'll see most of the page dressing comes from US servers and hence your viewing of this page and all the identity info it contains, has been logged by GCHQ in direct violation of the law.

    Imagine if GCHQ monitored your newspaper viewing to check you didn't hold 'terrorist views' by viewing 'unapproved newspapers' and that is EXACTLY what they are doing by monitoring readers of the Guardian, the BBC or elReg.

    William Hague tries to shut down the press, because they told Parliament what he'd done. He's actually defended deception of Parliament.

    This link is Theresa May, back before the Snowden leaks:

    http://news.sky.com/story/1095766/theresa-may-backs-snoopers-charter-powers

    " Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, she said: "I've always been clear that access to communications data is essential for the law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies."

    "There is a reducing capability in relation to access to communications data and as far as I'm concerned I think this is a very important thing we need to ensure we are giving our law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies access to the tools that they need to fight crime, paedophiles and terrorists."

    See? SHE'S KNOWS ABOUT TEMPORA AND PRISM, BUT SHE LIES ABOUT GCHQ'S NEED OF THE LAW.

    GCHQ doesn't need the laws to spy on Brits, it's needs the laws to MAKE THEIR SPYING LEGAL.

    Now Theresa May is attempting to get the right to strip suspects of citizenship. Letting her police accuse *anyone* of terrorism, and being able to simply banish them from the UK. They don't need evidence enough to prosecute them, only a claim is needed, and so any Brit can be banishes this way.

    This is a person WHO DECEIVED PARLIAMENT trying to get the power to strip people of their citizenship based on nothing but a claim of 'suspect'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: William Hague admits Parliament & Ministers kept in dark

      "Hague defended the fact that the full scope of surveillance by GCHQ was not discussed at the national security council or the cabinet"

      Wasn't that performance repeated (live and unedited and in squirming awkardness) by Hague on the Andrew Marr show this Sunday morning just gone ?

      Theresa May's no better.

    2. codeusirae
      Facepalm

      Your viewing habits spied on

      @ doronron: "You may think your viewing of this article from Britain to elReg in Britain is not spied upon by GCHQ, but look again and you'll see most of the page dressing comes from US servers and hence your viewing of this page and all the identity info it contains, has been logged by GCHQ in direct violation of the law."

      Why do I have to connect to all these sites in order to view a Guardian page? ..

      ajax.googleapis.com, scorecardsearch.com, edgecastcdn.net, fastly.net, guim.co.uk, optimizely.com, quantserve.com, resource.guim.net, revsci.net, static.adsafeprotected.com, static.chartbeat.com, wunderloop.net ...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Your viewing habits spied on

        Why do I have to connect to all these sites in order to view a Guardian page? ..

        "ajax.googleapis.com, scorecardsearch.com, edgecastcdn.net, fastly.net, guim.co.uk, optimizely.com, quantserve.com, resource.guim.net, revsci.net, static.adsafeprotected.com, static.chartbeat.com, wunderloop.net"

        I'm not sure you *have* to, but the Grauniad's traditional business model, which until t'Internet arrived was based on decent journalism selling harcopy papers, has been failing in recent years, as have many other newspapers. Whether the decreased quantity of decent journalism at The Guardian in recent years is cause or effect of the decrease in sales is a different discussion. The web names you list are presumably assorted ad-trackers and the like, because profiled users are allegedly worth more to advertisers (and thus to the Guardian) than random page views are worth. Remember, this newspaper was a "Phorm partner" at one stage.

        Sucks, but such is the modern Internet.

  7. Khaptain Silver badge

    Dear American people

    You are getting seriously fucked over by your own government, they are creating a shitpile that you will be cleaning up for years.

    Amendments, what amendments, your government is simply saying "fuck the amendments, we do as we please".

    The American governement has become a disease, let's hope/pray that it doesn't become an epidemic..

    Slavery is coming back, in fact it's already here, to the good ol USA, have a quick look at this nice little wealth distribution vid

    Knee jerk reaction, of course it is but what the fuck else is it going to take for people to wake up...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dear American people

      Khaptain, thanks for that.

      Now, you're headed for trouble from some folk round here who don't like uncomfortable realities rubbed in their faces. But not as much trouble as the US (and UK) economies are headed for.

      From the video: "the CEO (in the top 1%) has an income 380 times that of his *average* (not poorest) employee".

      I may have marginally misremembered. But it's worth watching the video (although a couple of paragraphs and a few charts would have presented the same information, and been more readily quotable, but these days if it isn't on Youtube it isn't for real).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I call bullshit

    "Executive Order that US President Obama said he knew nothing about."

    Bollocks, bollocks and thrice I say bollocks. This may be a convenient excuse for el presidente however there's no chance it actually happened that way. If someone was lunatic enough to counterfeit the presidential seal then I'm sure we'd know about it.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: I call bullshit

      Here be a cartoon which depicts Obama in the light you are shining on him, Nicho .......... http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-11-12/obama-translated

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: I call bullshit

      In fairness to Obama (if I must) wasnt this Order issued by Bush? If so I suspect all an incoming president gets is a spreadsheet listing each active executive order with a one line description.

      Not saying he should not have done the due diligence but I can understand how it was overlooked. Especially if the summary deliberately obscures the content.

  9. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    "It ignored restrictions painstakingly crafted by lawmakers"

    Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity... I am willing to make an assumption that Congressman Sensenbrenner did not have universal surveillance society in mind when he drafted the PATRIOT act. I will also give him credit for realizing it was a mistake (or so it seems). But it was his mistake, and he should honestly admit it. The act was anything but "painstakingly crafted" (if it were then what NSA has been doing would be illegal), rather it was hastily and sloppily created, obviously with no clear thought given to what it allows, how the language might be interpreted (and the language is the only thing that matters, the intent matters not at all), and what the potential consequences might be, especially in the worst case scenario. This is not how legislators are supposed to create laws affecting hundreds of millions of people (and that's not counting the billions who wish America well and are punished for it).

    Now, Congressman, do say "*I* f..ked up. I intend to fix my mistake. I learned my lesson. I will be really careful this time around." Your voters will respect you more for that.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: "It ignored restrictions painstakingly crafted by lawmakers"

      What he means?

      "I fscked up. I wanted them to be spying on all you plebs, because some of you are dangerous lunatics who fly aeroplanes into skyscrapers and plant bombs. It was kinda cool that we could keep tabs on people who simply oppose our gummint as well. But the b*stards aren't doing what we asked them to. They're spying on us as well! They're becoming a law unto themselves!! Soon, they'll mount a coup, round all of us up and shoot us!!!!

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Crazy State of Ignorant Play Today = Rich Pickings for the Smarts into Quants Tomorrow

    Well, if the security and intelligence services do not have media and politicians doing their bidding, with knowledge aforethought of their every action and proposed reaction, then they are obviously not fit for future purpose. And if they are in such present command and control of those primitive assets, then are they in dire straits need of need leadership, programs and scripts for televisual transfer and virtual realisation of intelligent base metadata, for it be quite obvious to even a blind man on a galloping horse, that naked truth is being discarded in favour of alienating spin to produce a reality which will increasingly quickly be collapsed.

    And here be another danger today which creates a host of new enemies tomorrow ......

    Monsegur secretly turned informant after the FBI tracked him down in May 2011, and he became an agent provocateur, publicly cheerleading for hack attacks against private security contractors and law enforcement agencies. In this way he ensnared Hammond and the other Stratfor hackers, and even got them to transfer their stolen material to an FBI-controlled server. ..... from a Wired tale today ... http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/11/hammond-sentencing-memo/

    Is that the same as incitement and entrapment and would one be classified in intelligence circles and secret societies as a mole and a traitor and designated vermin for .... well, what is justice and just desserts for such beings?

    What sanctions and punishments do working governments and executive administrations seek to apply and supply, or is there reward and/or fame and/or infamy for deceitful encouragement to do as others agree that one does?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Crazy State of Ignorant Play Today = Rich Pickings for the Smarts into Quants Tomorrow

      What language is that written in?

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: The Crazy State of Ignorant Play Today = Rich Pickings for the Smarts into Quants Tomorrow

        "What language is that written in?"

        You must be new here, if you don't understand the wisdom from amanfrommars.

        FYI it's Martian.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Crazy State of Ignorant Play Today = Rich Pickings for the Smarts into Quants Tomorrow

      That is the standard modus operandi for US law enforcement, its not specific to IT or security issues.

  11. Christoph Silver badge

    "But the NSA abused that trust"

    But the bears promised not to shit in the woods! And the pope swore he wasn't catholic! How was I to know? (sobs pitifully)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But due to the complicated mess they made of the legislation, it was the pope who promised not to defecate in the woods, and the bears who were asked if they were not catholic. So neither lied.

  12. Graham Marsden
    Facepalm

    Hear that sound...?

    That's the sound of chickens coming home to roost!

  13. fishman

    Snowden

    Thank you Edward Snowden.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here is Some Help From Germany

    http://scherbius2014.de/

    + No way to subvert cipher by means of Government Malware

    + Can be used via any means of communication from text message to Shortwave radio or telegram

    + Simple to use, symmetric cipher

    + Blowfish Counter mode

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here is Some Help From Germany

      Errm, no. As long as Germany permits to use illegally obtained data in court, it is only in a marginally better position re. trust than the US, and no amount of technology can fix that.

  15. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    PATRIOT act

    Was September 11 the reason for the PATRIOT act

    or

    was the PATRIOT act the reason for September 11?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: PATRIOT act

      9/11 was a necessary precondition for continued, massive money flows to the Military Industrial Complex and at least one False-Flag war.

      The real reason for Islamic Terror - the state of Saudi-Arabia - enjoys an uninterrupted, happy life.

      The Saudis even have the gall to be "disappointed they bought a war in Syria and the United States does not deliver".

      @NSA: If you want to do anything good once in your miserable lifes, then do the same to the Saudi King as you did to Saddam.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Patriots are required to act intelligently or they be just as ignorant slaves to systems admin

        Regarding frankgerlach.tai's post ....... Posted Wednesday 13th November 2013 13:17 GMT .... here be a question, for there be always one who leads with everyone else following orders. Well, ok, that be at least four questions to be answered but how else is one to make any sense of what is going on without inquiring about who is doing what and for why?

        Are Saudi royals, Israeli puppets, or is Israel a Saudi puppet? .......http://presstv.com/detail/2013/11/10/334048/saudi-arabia-joining-israel-for-iran-war/

        And is Uncle Sam/NSA/FBI/CIA/DOD a cuckold and autonomous coward and easily humiliated and remotely controlled?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: PATRIOT act

        "The real reason for Islamic Terror - the state of Saudi-Arabia - enjoys an uninterrupted, happy life."

        Personally I'd blame the lack of soap, soft toilet paper, and satellite TV.

  16. mike acker

    commercial at the start

    they call it 'market research'. market research is gathering information about customers so that marketing campaigns can be conducted. these are more successful when they are directed to a selected or 'target' audience.

    any type of communication that you participate in can be used to facilitate this 'market research' -- Web, e/mail, social nets, phone systems, ...

    an article offered by Bruce Schneier recently suggests that the NSA isn't the real villian but rather has simply started to participate in the process.

  17. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Sensenbrenner's point is that the politics of stopping snooping on Americans is hard enough

    Without adding foreign nationals to the bill. So his position is that he will try to do something about snooping within the United States, and it is up to the governments of the rest of the world to raise enough Hell in DC to get restrictions on the foreign intelligence aspects of the NSA's activities.

  18. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Perhaps if he'd *read* the bill he's "authored" in the first place

    this might have been prevented.

    has anyone read this one either?

  19. Shane Kent

    The US government is so full of $#!+...

    Patriot Act is b.s. If they (the US Gov) are so eager to fight terrorists, why do they let rich Americans fund terrorists in Canada! That's right USA, you have wealthy people funding groups in Canada that have burned Canadian police vehicles, and threatened Canadian people. All to stop/slow our oil industry.

    This is indeed fact, and the Canadian Government is working on "Anti-terrorism law to name ecologists as threat".

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