back to article Senate introduces USA FREEDOM Act to curb NSA spying excesses

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has introduced the USA FREEDOM Act to the US Senate and claims, that, if passed, the legislation will severely curtail the amount of mass surveillance that can be carried out by the NSA and others – provided you're a citizen of the land of the free. "This is a debate about Americans' fundamental …

  1. Don Jefe


    This is fucking fantastic news! FREEDOM rebelling against PATRIOT in a war which will push the hypocrisy meter past 11 and hopefully disappear this entire god damn city into an alternate plane of existence. Hopefully I'll be able to escape, but if I can't get away fast enough I will go peacefully enough. Just knowing all the trundling chucklefucks here in DC will stop disturbing the rest of the world will be enough to consider my life complete.

    1. Ted Treen
      Big Brother


      One of the big problems Don is that NSA (and no doubt, our own agencies this side of the pond) consider themselves above the law.

      Making something illegal sure as hell doesn't stop 'em doing it!

      1. Hargrove

        Re: CRITICAL MASS @ ted treeb

        Just so. The original concept of a rule of law as guarantor of the rights and freedoms of a People--including first and foremost, protection against the appropriation of unjust power and authority by those who govern--is dead as a doornail. Those who govern have, given the police powers of the state, turned the law into a tool of suppression and repression. By all indications, this problem appears to afflict most nations today.

        As we learned in engineering school, recognizing and defining the problem is half the solution. Modern IT is a powerful tool that, at present, serves both those who govern and the governed.

        Those who govern and special interests are doing their damnedest to change that. The dimensions if this issue are many and complex, The short version: Envision a global IT infrastructure where--as a practical matter, except for a few hard core geeks--all user data and apps are in the "flexible cloud"; reliability is predicated on the ability to pass vast quantities of data between data centers comprising the cloud; and those who govern and the special interests they serve control the use and cost of bandwidth.

      2. Nanners


        Exactly my thought. What's to stop them from say "O.K." and then carrying on as usual? You think they are going to just give up power so easily? No, it's here for the long term.

    2. Hargrove


      @don jefe

      BZ! Hypocrisy is the mot just.

      I wanted to say Bravo while DJ's post was hot. Next task is to actually go read the proposed legislation.

      For those who don't have time or patience to read several thousand pages of absolutely impenetrable legalistic bulls--t written by staffers fresh out of grad school, here is an insight into US legislation that will save you countless hours of time and energy.

      Read the title and stated purpose of any bit of US legislation. You can safely assume that by the time the special interests have had their way with it, the actual provisions of the law have the opposite practical legal effect.

    3. Someone Else Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      @ Don Jefe -- Re: CRITICAL MASS

      Just knowing all the trundling chucklefucks here in DC will stop disturbing the rest of the world will be enough to consider my life complete.

      "Chucklefucks". I like it!. Have an upvote!

    4. FormerKowloonTonger



      "Hopefully I'll be able to escape, "

      What's holding you back?

  2. 101
    Thumb Down

    Why does the title USA Freedom Act sound so much like the rights and freedom robbing Patriot Act?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      And for American businesses wanting to business outside the USA, especially in Europe, it is the Patriot Act and the NSA that pretty much mean that no company in its right mind will put data on an American owned cloud service.

      Add to that the judge in the USA trying to short circuit international evidence gathering treaties by claiming that offshore servers are actually onshore, because they are computers and connected to the internet, so companies like Microsoft have to break international law, because the US law enforcement agencies don't have the money and resources to do the job properly...

      At this rate, the USA is going to isolate itself and its corporations.

    2. Old Handle

      Because 1. they love acronyms, and 2. it's specifically intended to be an antidote to that, so I assume they thought it made sense to name it in the same style.

  3. Notas Badoff

    Acronym wanted: must be inscrutable

    I so want a bill with the excruciatingly constructed result FECKOFF. When the always inquisitive congressmen ask, just tell'em it's an Indian word.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Acronym wanted: must be inscrutable

      Federal Evidence Collection and Knowledge Overriding Foreign Freedoms

      1. NumptyScrub

        Re: Acronym wanted: must be inscrutable

        Unashamedly Stating America is Reimagining Agency Processes Expected to Fix Allied Concerns Eventually

        Expect the USA RAPEFACE Act to partner FREEDOM in the coming months :)

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Not to worry.. there's a backdoor...

    NSA will spy on and slurp Britain. GHCQ will spy on and slurp the USA. They will then trade the data. All nice, tidy, and legal and everyone will be happy that their country isn't spying on them. <sigh> I think I'll go have a beer and grieve that freedom is just a meaningless acronym.

    1. Cipher
      Big Brother

      Re: Not to worry.. there's a backdoor...

      This exactly what the CIA has done for decades. Their charter prohibits their ops inside the USA, so they worked out a reciprocity deal with the Brits long ago...

      1. Otto is a bear.

        Re: Not to worry.. there's a backdoor...

        Err. No. think about that, the rest of the 5i's external intelligence services put together wouldn't have enough resources to do that, let alone their own jobs as well. I suspect the US would also have to pay the UK for that service, and I can't see that being hidden for very long.

        Luckily I believe the US has a small organisation called the FBI to do that kind of thing for itself doesn't it?

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Big Brother

          Re: Otto is a bear Re: Not to worry.. there's a backdoor...

          ".....the rest of the 5i's external intelligence services put together wouldn't have enough resources to do that....." Not wanting to fan the paranoia, but I'm afraid they do. What happens is the systems and data stores are shared, with search tools like XKeyScore at the front end to do the sifting for the analysts. When spying is needed on a foreign entity it is an American analyst that runs the search through XKeyScore, and when spying is needed on an American citizen in the US it is passed over to a partner (such as MI6) to run the search. If the Yanks (or a partner) need deniability then a separate database instance can be set up, nominally not under US control, but available to all via XKeyScore and such tools. Now, I'm sure all the partners, including the Yanks, keep some parts of their data troves hidden from each other, but when the 5i partners do errands for the Yanks they do so with the same capabilities as the Yanks would have because the Yanks give them access to the data and tools.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: Not to worry.. there's a backdoor...

        "This exactly what the CIA has done for decades. Their charter prohibits their ops inside the USA, so they worked out a reciprocity deal with the Brits long ago..."


        The CIA was barred from operating on US soil.

        But the format of DHS and THE PATRIOT Act ended that little impediment a long time ago.

        1. FormerKowloonTonger

          Re: Not to worry.. there's a backdoor...


          "But the format of DHS and THE PATRIOT Act ended that little impediment a long time ago."

          Please explain, no snark please.

      3. phil dude

        Re: Not to worry.. there's a backdoor...

        that's why they call "Spooks" MI5 over here, it stops the confusion about who is spying on who...



    2. Hargrove

      Re: Not to worry.. there's a backdoor...

      @ mark 85

      freedom is just another meaningless acronym

      I understand the feeling. Still . . .

      As long as the desire to be free lives in even one human heart, the idea of freedom will have meaning and value. When, as I believe to be the case, it resides in the hearts of many, it is a force to be reckoned with. Those who govern, somewhere deep in their collective reptilian brain, understand and fear this.

  5. Grikath


    They're implementing the lightning rod.

    And that would change things how? As pointed out above, within even non-black ops there's 50 shades of data sharing going on already, all "legal". This thing does not change until the curb and bit are applied internationally. Until then? Business as usual.

  6. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Oh ffs...

    "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT)"

    They couldn't think of any words to spell "ACT" or would that get too recursive?

    The Campaign to Liberate Terrorist Organisations and Rehabilitate them Into Society isn't doing as well.

    1. MrZoolook

      Re: Oh ffs...

      I was bored.

      NSA... No Secracy Allowed.

      GCHQ... Gigantic Conglomaracy Harvesting Quickly.

      USA PATRIOT Act... Undoubtedly Stupid And Pathetic Attempt To Rationalise Investigation Of Taxpayers And Citizens Totally.

    2. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Re: Oh ffs...

      You forgot the 'International' part...

      YAAC» Campaign to Liberate International Terrorist Organisations and Rehabilitate them Into Society

  7. Forget It

    Executive Order 12333

    that;s my new password

    thanks Ron

  8. MrDamage


    American Security Services Hoarding All Terrestrial Secrets

  9. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Yes, the three-letter agencies will find workarounds and will use them unless there is adequate oversight, but it is still worth replacing legislation that says it's OK to treat your own citizens as the enemy until proven innocent.

    El Reg's tone seems to suggest that foreigners shouldn't be too impressed by any of this, but to be honest I am more worried by the US spying on Americans than I am about them spying on me. The latter is, I'm sure, reciprocated. The former is a deeply worrying development in a country that has spent much of the last century saving the human race from some of its worst governments ever. So yeah, go America and re-read that constitution of yours and kick your institutions back into shape. We'll all be better off for it, even if you're spying on us.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't make me laugh....

    Dear Patriot-Homeland-Screwing-NSA, I'm an American so don't track me.... Talk about impractical. Its as useless as having to keep stored cookies to tell sites you've opted out of tracking. So lets look at how practical this is...

    So many different tech services are hosted in different countries, and I rarely if ever bother to assign a home county when I set-up a new account. I also frequently travel and work overseas, and sometimes even move country every few years. I use an overseas proxy so I can get the BBC and while I don't use Tor, if I did, I'm fair game to get suctioned up. In short, there's no way to prevent your data being hoovered up!

    That's unless you send in all of your personal info about every single account to the NSA directly and beg them not to track you. Then you still have to pray they apply the correct filters to the Grid, and don't confuse state dialling codes with entire countries...........

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      Re: AC Re: Don't make me laugh....

      ".....In short, there's no way to prevent your data being hoovered up!...." True, but you fail to supply even the slightest reason as to why you or your data would be of interest to anyone, let alone the NSA, which suggests your metadata would be flushed with the rest of the unwanted crud picked up whilst looking for rest threats.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't make me laugh....

      Not forgetting partners of Americans, who will be spied upon automatically in the dragnet, and therefore their US other half will be monitored also. That is, short of the NSA having Stasi files on all of us....

  11. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    *Sounds* good.

    But it all hinges on 2 things

    Effective oversight and avoidance of regulatory capture.

    Time will tell who is offered the NS Koolaid and who drinks it.

  12. Shaha Alam


    catchy name. sounds like it comes with inspiring background music.

  13. ShadowedOne


    First the PATRIOT Act and now a FREEDOM Act....they're trolling, right?

  14. Ike Aramba
    Big Brother

    Isn't it about time they revoked the few remaining parts of the US constitution that haven't been totally ignored by the US government and security services?

    1. Hargrove

      @ike aramba

      Isn't it about time they revoked the few remaining parts of the US constitution that haven't been totally ignored by the US government and security services

      No need. Those parts have been safely buried under several thousand tons of legislation and judicial rulings.

      As for any pretext of guarantees of protection of individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, witness Miriam Carey--deprived of all, thus far, with complete impunity.

      Mistakes are made, and people die as a result. The officers who fired the fatal shots should be accountable, but perhaps are due a bit of understanding. Their leaders are another matter. They are the ones responsible for creating the presumptive right to kill. Their sickening and self-serving statements praising the heroism of their respective organizations laid it out there for everyone. They could not wait to get in front of the cameras, truth and justice be damned.

      1. phil dude

        we need Nicholas Cage...

        to go and rescue the Constitution...


    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      As one who swore to uphold the Constitution back in the late '60's, what is being applied and upheld today resembles little of what was then. Instead of revoking the Constitution, it's more like time to revoke parts of the government and restore the Constitution.

      Crap.. now I'll bet not only is NSA watching me, I'm probably going to end up on the no-fly list to boot.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ...this is just a ruse to get votes as he already knows this legislation will never get passed and for good reason.

  16. Hargrove

    The other backdoor

    There is another dimension that warrants consideration--the wholesale collection and aggregation and aggregation of personal information by the private sector in the Cloud. Any expectation that those who govern will not have access to this is misguided.

    The symbiotic relation between those who legislate and govern, and the special interests of the IT industry guarantee that access. Not a conspiracy, just human nature doing what it does--finding common cause to satisfy greed and the lust for power.

  17. Pirate Dave Silver badge


    F is for Fighting

    R is for Red (ancestor's blood, in battles they shed)

    E we elect them

    E we eject them (in the land of the Free and the home of the brave)

    D for your dying

    O your overture

    M they will cover your grave with manure

    This spells out freedom

    it means nothing to me

    as long as there's a PATRIOT Act

    (Apologies to Dave Mustaine)

    Repeal the fucking PATRIOT Act, that would be a start. Then we wouldn't need these new laws to curtail the abuses from older laws which had taken away freedoms from our orignal laws. You don't untangle a string by putting more knots in it.

  18. JaitcH

    And the Edward J Snowden effect continues ...

    and the NSA said it was a small, passing matter!

    Wrong again, CLAPPER!

  19. FormerKowloonTonger

    Here's! a! brilliantly! original! idea!

    Dis-establisment applied to all Intel agencies Worldwide!

    Neat, huh?

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