Opponents of NSA surveillance aren't giving up after House vote

Privacy advocates and lawmakers push forward with efforts to stop NSA's surveillance programs

Privacy and digital rights groups have dug in for a longer fight against massive surveillance programs at the U.S. National Security Agency, even after the House of Representatives voted last week against an amendment to curtail the agency's data collection.

The House last Wednesday narrowly defeated an amendment to a defense spending bill that would have prohibited the NSA from the bulk collection of phone records from U.S. carriers and cut off funding for the phone records collection program as currently designed, but digital rights groups have said the close vote gives them hope of weakening support for the NSA programs in Congress.

Lawmakers have introduced several bills to curb the NSA data collection, and privacy advocates may push for another amendment to a bill on the House or Senate floor, said David Segal, executive director at Demand Progress, a digital rights group.

The vote last Wednesday "demonstrated that a majority of rank-and-file members agree with us, while the institutionalists -- leadership, committee chairs -- disagree," he said by email. "So it could be difficult to move things through the committee process ... but there'll be some relevant floor votes in coming months."

Wednesday's vote was "unnervingly close," Sina Khanifar, a digital rights activist and organizer of DefundTheNSA.com, added in an email. "While we lost the vote, the fact that over 200 representatives were in support of the amendment, despite lobbying by the NSA and strong opposition from the White House, sends a really strong message."

DefundTheNSA.com asks opponents of the NSA surveillance to continue to contact their lawmakers. "This isn't over yet," the site said. "The tide is turning against domestic surveillance."

Members of Congress aren't tabling the issue, either. The Senate Judiciary Committee will conduct a hearing Wednesday focused on how to strengthen privacy rights and provide more oversight of the NSA programs.

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is lead sponsor of a bill that would set a higher standard for the NSA to collect domestic information and would make public more information about surveillance programs.

Testifying at the hearing will be representatives of the NSA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as surveillance critic the American Civil Liberties Union and Judge James Carr, who formerly served on the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Carr has proposed changes to the court's processes that would allow judges there to appoint lawyers to oppose surveillance requests.

Several other lawmakers have also introduced bills that would limit the NSA's ability to collect data.

Representative Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, introduced a bill last week that would release the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act, two laws that give the NSA authority to conduct antiterrorism surveillance.

On June 19, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat, introduced the FISA Court in the Sunshine Act, which would require U.S. officials to disclose most orders of the surveillance court that include "significant legal interpretation" of surveillance laws.

And on June 7, Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, introduced the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act, which says that the U.S. Constitution shall not be "construed to allow any agency of the United States government to search the phone records of Americans without a warrant based on probable cause."

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags U.S. Federal Bureau of InvestigationtelecommunicationU.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance CourtU.S. National Security AgencyDemand ProgresslegislationinternetDavid SegalprivacySina KhanifarRand PaulAmerican Civil Liberties UnionU.S. House of RepresentativessecuritygovernmentSheila Jackson LeePatrick LeahyRush HoltGovernment use of ITJames Carr

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?