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house Bill H.R. 3989

USA Liberty Act: Reforming & Reauthorizing the NSA’s Collection of Communications Under Section 702

Argument in favor

This bipartisan bill to reauthorize and reform the NSA’s collection of communications by non-U.S. persons outside the country for national security purposes while reforming the process to better protect Americans’ civil liberties.

Michael's Opinion
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10/27/2017
If you have nothing to hide, and you aren’t a shady, piece of crap Democrat, then you don’t have to worry, hell yeah vote yes. Maybe we can start getting information on the terrorist groups like BLM, KKK, and Antifa, and start throwing those losers in jail. ***updated*** You simpletons obviously can’t read, this is for non-US citizens morons, no wonder the democrats are losing, they are all illiterate and stupid. And the government can spy on me, I have no dirty laundry, I don’t support terrorists, I helped defend this country from them, so kindly remove your heads from your @$$es
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Scott's Opinion
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10/27/2017
While I dislike the fact that this spying is a necessary evil, and fear this current administration’s abuse, I have no doubt that some form of ‘spying on foreign communications’ bill will pass. I’d rather a bipartisan, somewhat revised bill with some controls then another blank-check Patriot Bill.
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Mark's Opinion
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10/27/2017
All for continuing this BUT we the people want the officials that misuse this power and authority to be held accountable..misuse of this power goes against our constitutional rights and has been abused..don’t change it just hold those accountable for misusing the power!
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Argument opposed

While it may have bipartisan support, this bill ultimately doesn’t do enough to protect Americans’ privacy through “incidental collection” or prevent their identity from being improperly unmasked by government officials.

IllWill's Opinion
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10/27/2017
I don’t think so. By the way, what an Orwellian name to give a bill that authorizes government spying. If the government continues to get court orders from the FISA court, the protections will mean nothing since that court is just a rubber stamp for the government. I still don’t believe that our 4th amendment rights are well protected by this bill.
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NoHedges's Opinion
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10/27/2017
The republican GOP has done nothing that I know of that would constitute this level of trust. Trust is earned, ladies & gentlemen, not an entitlement. ⚡️And hear this ABSOLUTELY NO CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTIONS. 💥No monkeying around with the country’s most scared legal documents this risk of contamination is too great.
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twokatmew's Opinion
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10/27/2017
No! Absolutely not. Our current administration can't be trusted. Let's not give them the tools to legally spy on private citizens.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Oversight, Management, and Accountability
      Committee on Homeland Security
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedOctober 6th, 2017

What is House Bill H.R. 3989?

This bill — known as the USA Liberty Act — would reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which permits intelligence agencies’ collection of electronic communications by non-U.S. persons outside of the U.S. for national security purposes, for six years through fiscal year 2023. The current authorization expires at the end of the year. The bill would look to reform the process by which metadata collected under Section 702 can be accessed, strengthen civil liberties protections for Americans whose communications are incidentally collected, prevent government abuse of the unmasking process, improve oversight, and protect national security. Details on those provisions of the bill can be found below.

The process for accessing results from Section 702 queries would be reformed and only permitted for national security or criminal investigations:

  • For criminal investigations, the government must obtain a court order based on probable cause to look at the content of communications unless lives or safety are threatened or a previous probable cause-based court order or warrant had previously been issued. As long as it’s relevant to an authorized investigation, the the database could be queried and an agent can immediately access metadata like phone numbers and time stamp information with supervisory approval.

  • For national security investigations the the government must have a legitimate national security purpose to query the 702 database for a U.S. person’s email or phone number.

When an American citizen’s information is collected by the National Security Agency as part of the Section 702 database, their personal information is supposed “masked” through minimization standards. Certain government officials have the power to unmask that information, and to prevent abuse all such requests but be logged to allow for congressional oversight.

Congress would get a report twice per year with the number of U.S. citizens whose communications are incidentally collected; the number of unmasking requests that involve U.S. persons; and the number of requests by the intelligence community that resulted in the dissemination of unmasked identities. A report would also be required for the number of Dept. of Justice (DOJ) queries that resulted in a “hit” in the 702 database.

The NSA’s internal prohibition on the collection of so-called “about” communications — meaning a foreign target of surveillance is referenced in a communication — would be codified into law for six years so Congress can revisit the issue. (NSA ended this because it couldn’t prevent Americans’ communications from being swept up in “about” communications.)

The Director of the National Security Agency and Attorney General would be required to jointly sign an affidavit certifying that communications collected under 702 that are determined not to contain foreign intelligence information would be purged.

The bill would also codify the current practice of allowing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to designate an amicus curiae to represent civil liberties concerns regarding the government’s annual 702 certification. If the FISC doesn’t designate an amicus curiae, it would have to document the reasons for its decision.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) would be allowed to hire staff and work even in instances when not all five members of the board have been nominated and confirmed. The PCLOB serves as a watchdog over the federal government’s national security tools as they relate to Americans’ civil liberties. 

Whistleblower protections afforded to government employees would be extended to private contractors hired by the intelligence community.

The penalty for the unauthorized removal and retention of classified information would be increased from up to one year to up to five years imprisonment.

Federal agencies would be directed to share national security and foreign intelligence information among the intelligence community in order to thwart terror plots.

The U.S. would be allowed to share information collected under section 702 with allies to combat terrorism.

The bill’s full title is the Uniting and Strengthening American Liberty Act of 2017.

Impact

American citizens whose communications are incidentally collected under section 702; non-U.S. persons whose communications are collected; intelligence agencies; and Congress.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3989

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced this bill to reform and reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) which is set to expire at the end of the year:

“The USA Liberty Act protects Americans’ lives and their civil liberties. This bipartisan bill reauthorizes a critical national security tool that keeps Americans safe but also reforms it to protect Americans’ constitutional rights. It contains more accountability, transparency, and oversight so that the American people have confidence that our cherished liberties continue to be protected as the intelligence community keeps us safe from foreign enemies wishing to harm our nation and citizens. The bill also contains a number of measures to further enhance national security so that our country remains free and safe. I thank the many members who have worked on this bill for months and look forward to bringing it up in the House Judiciary Committee soon.”

Lead cosponsor Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) added:

“Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is essential to the intelligence community’s gathering of foreign intelligence and detecting threats to the homeland.  Its reauthorization should include reforms that bring this authority better in line with our sense of privacy and due process.  Indeed, we believe that it will only be possible to reauthorize Section 702 with such reforms in place. The bipartisan USA Liberty Act is designed to accomplish this goal.”

This legislation has the support of 12 bipartisan cosponsors in the House, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation gave the USA Liberty Act a mixed review, saying that it “won’t curtail the NSA’s practices of collecting data on innocent people” but “does make significant changes to how and when agents can search through data collected under 702.”


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: batak1 / iStock)

AKA

Uniting and Strengthening American Liberty Act of 2017

Official Title

To amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to clarify and improve the procedures and accountability for authorizing certain acquisitions of foreign intelligence, to extend title VII of such Act, to ensure that the barriers to sharing critical foreign intelligence among the intelligence community that existed before September 11, 2001, are not reimposed, and for other purposes.

    If you have nothing to hide, and you aren’t a shady, piece of crap Democrat, then you don’t have to worry, hell yeah vote yes. Maybe we can start getting information on the terrorist groups like BLM, KKK, and Antifa, and start throwing those losers in jail. ***updated*** You simpletons obviously can’t read, this is for non-US citizens morons, no wonder the democrats are losing, they are all illiterate and stupid. And the government can spy on me, I have no dirty laundry, I don’t support terrorists, I helped defend this country from them, so kindly remove your heads from your @$$es
    Like (66)
    Follow
    Share
    I don’t think so. By the way, what an Orwellian name to give a bill that authorizes government spying. If the government continues to get court orders from the FISA court, the protections will mean nothing since that court is just a rubber stamp for the government. I still don’t believe that our 4th amendment rights are well protected by this bill.
    Like (216)
    Follow
    Share
    The republican GOP has done nothing that I know of that would constitute this level of trust. Trust is earned, ladies & gentlemen, not an entitlement. ⚡️And hear this ABSOLUTELY NO CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTIONS. 💥No monkeying around with the country’s most scared legal documents this risk of contamination is too great.
    Like (103)
    Follow
    Share
    No! Absolutely not. Our current administration can't be trusted. Let's not give them the tools to legally spy on private citizens.
    Like (59)
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    Any time I see “Liberty” or “American” or similar marketing in legislation, I believe that it likely is the most un-American or least liberating legislation. Commercialism in America has done so much damage to Americans, that they believe everything they here or see instantly, without actually taking the time to investigate what something really entails. We have lost our liberties, or more appropriately, have given them away to our politicians and corporations, by blindly accepting everything they say or do “on behalf of the American People”. Much of the modern legislation appears to be ultra-fascism, which sounds great with the ultra-Nationalism words placed delicately within the text, but ultimately are taking rights away from all of us and giving it to our “Smaller Government “ or Corporations. This bill may not provide the appropriate protections to American citizens with the way it is currently written. Too many loopholes, as others have pointed out.
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    It’s not OK to spy on anyone without cause and due process. That is fundamental to our core principles and is exactly what our Constitution and Bill of Rights were designed to protect us from, whether you are a US citizen or not.
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    I know the Supreme Court says FISA is a legal process but I totally disagree with the decision. I understand we need to be safe as a country. As a resident of Florida I do not believe in giving up traditional rights for safety. Without freedom there is no need for safety. The forefathers who framed the constitution must be turning in their graves. Please vote to disable FISA.
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    Typically, in Fascist regimes, Liberty isn’t yanked, lock, stock and barrel from the people. It is chipped away, bit by bit, incrementally, until it is too late to defend against. Interestingly it generally happens in the name of national security. Just a nibble here and a nibble there until what is left is not Liberty or freedom but subjugation to the Autocratic whims of the beloved leader.
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    I'm sick of my government peddling my privacy and freedoms away for the illusion of security.
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    The surveillance state is a danger to all citizens, especially now as we recognize how easily the executive branch can be corrupted and weaponized against the populace. Allow FISA to lapse, for the domestic safety of all Americans.
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    One step closer to a fascist state. Please vote no on this bill.
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    This "reform" does nothing to prevent the spying on American citizens. It only, supposedly, makes criminal investigations need a warrant in most cases to access the already collected data. This is inexcusable and appalling. To willingly continue the illegal collection of data that violatws the 4th amendment is something that both Republican and Democrat admins have repeatedly done in the last several years. It is time to stand up for your oath and defend the constitution by voting NO on ANY unconstitutional collection of data.
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    While I dislike the fact that this spying is a necessary evil, and fear this current administration’s abuse, I have no doubt that some form of ‘spying on foreign communications’ bill will pass. I’d rather a bipartisan, somewhat revised bill with some controls then another blank-check Patriot Bill.
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    A bill designed to trade liberty for security, a tale as old as the political nation we stand on. We are not a secure people if we are an enslaved people.
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    Bob Goodlatte. I feel your assault on my freedoms to be an act of treason. Please consider that your ideals are flawed, and your actions harmful.
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    Reauthorize not reform
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    I’m of mixed mind on this, but all the Nays saying the government is violating the privacy of its citizens should at least read the description of the bill. It only allows collection of non-citizens not in America.
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    All for continuing this BUT we the people want the officials that misuse this power and authority to be held accountable..misuse of this power goes against our constitutional rights and has been abused..don’t change it just hold those accountable for misusing the power!
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    With the continued reauthorization of these provisions, you might as well call it the "USA Police State Act of 20xx" and call it a day.
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    Dose not protect Americans’ privacy through “incidental collection”. Meaning while it is designed to collect data on non citizens it allows your data to be collected if the NSA feels it is “relevant” or “accidentally gained” as part of the process.
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