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house Bill H.R. 1942

Should the NSA Stop Surveillance of Americans’ Phone Activity?

Argument in favor

The NSA’s phone surveillance programs are demonstrably unnecessary, as they haven’t stopped a single incidence of terrorism since their inception post-9/11. These programs intrude on citizens’ privacy and allow the government to collect vast amounts of information about people without their permission.

IllWill's Opinion
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06/22/2019
End the program! If the NSA wants somebody’s phone data then they need to get a warrant. Collecting someone’s private data without a warrant is a clear violation of our 4th amendment right to unreasonable searches and seizures!
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jimK's Opinion
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06/22/2019
NSA has been doing this in one way or another for at least the past 50 years. I worked at a secure facility 50 years ago and a person I knew was visited after they uttered a “key phrase” in a phone call- and had to be cleared afterwards. So, yes it should stop. In reality it probably won’t. That doesn’t mean that we should allow this to be legal- since it is not.
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jjackojr's Opinion
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06/22/2019
Of course they should, they never had the right to in the first place. Yet another example of an overarching, overpowerful, unmonitored government. The program has been shut down for awhile, uses unnecessary funding, and has proven neigh effective. In today's technological age, there are countless other forms of unmonitored communication forums. Conducting terrorist plots over this type of media would likely be the act of a less than serious threat or ill fated attempt. Stop spending money on unconstitutional programs and put the government back in it's place.
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Argument opposed

There’s no need to debate this bill since the NSA has already stopped its phone surveillance program for the time being and the bill giving it authority for phone surveillance programs — the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 — is up for reauthorization this year. When that bill comes up for reauthorization, Congress will debate this issue and make a decision then.

Paul's Opinion
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06/22/2019
Our intelligence should do everything they need to do, and Trump needs to stay out the way.
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J. scott's Opinion
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06/23/2019
Yes I’m a liberal through and through. Nevertheless, I fully support what NSA is doing they are actually protecting us and their actions should not be up for vote. Stop reading and listening to Russian propaganda. Your intelligence services are not acting against our best interests.
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06/22/2019
Ummm...Surveillance of trump’s criminal cabal of cronies‘ phone conversations would be good. We know there are crimes, obstruction of justice, bank fraud, tax fraud and more. Ok. Seriously....I think this needs to be carefully considered. I am not sure where to ‘draw the line’. There are valid reasons for intelligence surveillance so we must be careful to balance privacy issues against intelligence and national security issues.
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What is House Bill H.R. 1942?

This bill — the Ending Mass Collections of Americans’ Phone Records Act — would formally end the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Call Detail Records Program by repealing the legal authority in the USA FREEDOM Act that allows the collection of communications records metadata for foreign intelligence and international terrorism investigations.

Impact

Phone users; the NSA; and the USA FREEDOM Act.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1942

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Justin Amash (R-MI) introduced this bill to permanently end the National Security Agency’s (NSA) program to surveil Americans’ phone records:

“After falsely insisting to Congress that this illegal surveillance program is carefully overseen and critical to national security, the government admitted last year that it had to delete years of records due to legal violations, and now it’s been reported that the program has actually been shuttered for six months. Getting rid of this program will vindicate Americans’ rights and begin the process of making the broader Patriot Act reforms that are going to be necessary to address the law’s serious constitutional flaws.”

Sen. Ron Wyden, the sponsor of this bill’s companion in the Senate, adds:

“The NSA’s sprawling phone records dragnet was born in secrecy, defended with lies and never stopped a single terrorist attack. Even after Congress acted in 2015, the program collected over half a billion phone records in a single year. It’s time, finally, to put a stake in the heart of this unnecessary government surveillance program and start to restore some of Americans’ liberties. This bill is just the opening bid in a much-needed, broad overhaul of Section 215 of the Patriot Act.”

Demand Progress supports this bill. Its Policy Counsel, Sean Vitka, says:

“The CDR Program was an ill-advised attempt to preserve the NSA's dubiously claimed authority to programmatically collect the records of people who have never been in contact with a person suspected of wrongdoing. These mass surveillance programs have never stopped a single terrorist attack, but they have consistently violated both the letter and spirit of the law, most recently resulting in the purge of hundreds of millions of wrongfully collected Call Detail Records. Mass surveillance under the PATRIOT Act has achieved only two things: rampant privacy violations of innocent people and immunity and compensation for the corporations that enable it. This bill is an important step toward reining in the mass surveillance of innocent people.”

Speaking as a guest on the Lawfare blog podcast on March 2, 2019, Luke Murray, National Security Advisor to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), said that the Trump administration had let the NSA’s phone surveillance program stagnate in recent months and was considering ending the program altogether.

NSA Director Gen. Paul Nakasone has equivocated on whether and how important the domestic phone records program is, telling the RSA Conference in San Francisco on March 6, 2019, that the NSA is “in a deliberative process right now” and planning to “work very, very closely with the administration and Congress.” When reached for comment by the Associated Press, the NSA declined to comment on this specific piece of legislation.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has expressed staunch support for NSA surveillance programs, calling FISA Section 702-enabled surveillance programs the “crown jewels” of the international intelligence community.

This bill has one cosponsor, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA). A Senate version, sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), also has one cosponsor, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Demand Progress, Free Press Action, Restore the Fourth, the ACLU, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Fight for the Future support this bill.


Of NoteBill sponsors Sens. Wyden and Paul and Reps. Amash and Lofgren have led bipartisan opposition to unconstitutional mass surveillance of Americans, repeatedly partnering on initiatives to defend Americans’ liberty from overreaching government interference. Sens. Wyden and Paul requested an inspector general investigation of the NSA phone records program after the agency revealed last year it had collected millions of unauthorized records.

Privacy News Online reports that the NSA’s mass collection of call and SMS records is only one of the mass surveillance programs Edward Snowden revealed in 2013. Since the PATRIOT Act’s passage, the NSA’s most significant mass surveillance programs have been kept under wraps thanks to national security letters and FISA. Last year, the Trump administration chose to continue Obama-era NSA upstream surveillance programs despite privacy concerns. At the time, an anonymous White House source said, “We support the clean reauthorization [of NSA surveillance programs PRISM and Upstream], and the administration believes it’s necessary to protect the security of the nation.”

After the USA FREEDOM Act’s passage, some civil libertarians warned that its privacy protections were inadequate. These warnings were prescient: last year, it was revealed that the NSA had improperly collected “hundreds of millions of phone records from Americans.” In response to this revelation, the NSA eventually decided to delete the entire FREEDOM Act trove, which consisted of around 685 million phone records.

In early 2019, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) revealed that the NSA had shuttered its call-detail records program, which gathered metadata on domestic text messages and phone calls, some time in mid to late 2018. The program was authorized by the 2015 USA Freedom Act, which authorized a pared-down version of the phone records program created by the PATRIOT Act after 9/11. It provides some safeguards against aspects of the program that were deemed “overly invasive,” but still allowed the NSA to continue collecting call and text records. A major congressional battle is expected over the reauthorization of the USA Freedom Act’s surveillance program legal authority, often referred to as Section 215, later this year when the bill comes up for renewal.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / gorodenkoff)

AKA

Ending Mass Collection of Americans' Phone Records Act

Official Title

To repeal the authority to access on an ongoing basis business records for foreign intelligence and international terrorism investigations, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedMarch 28th, 2019
    End the program! If the NSA wants somebody’s phone data then they need to get a warrant. Collecting someone’s private data without a warrant is a clear violation of our 4th amendment right to unreasonable searches and seizures!
    Like (155)
    Follow
    Share
    Our intelligence should do everything they need to do, and Trump needs to stay out the way.
    Like (24)
    Follow
    Share
    NSA has been doing this in one way or another for at least the past 50 years. I worked at a secure facility 50 years ago and a person I knew was visited after they uttered a “key phrase” in a phone call- and had to be cleared afterwards. So, yes it should stop. In reality it probably won’t. That doesn’t mean that we should allow this to be legal- since it is not.
    Like (80)
    Follow
    Share
    Of course they should, they never had the right to in the first place. Yet another example of an overarching, overpowerful, unmonitored government. The program has been shut down for awhile, uses unnecessary funding, and has proven neigh effective. In today's technological age, there are countless other forms of unmonitored communication forums. Conducting terrorist plots over this type of media would likely be the act of a less than serious threat or ill fated attempt. Stop spending money on unconstitutional programs and put the government back in it's place.
    Like (48)
    Follow
    Share
    Right to privacy, people. It’s real.
    Like (37)
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    “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." In the wise words of Benjamin Franklin. Nothing truer can be said
    Like (32)
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    What is it about our Constitution that you all in government don’t understand? Apparently, it’s the fact that our Constitution has a bill of rights. End this draconian abuse of our inalienable rights ASAP!
    Like (29)
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    Surveillance is directly against the Fourth Amendment. The Patriot Act and the NSA should be discontinued, and the NSA should be repurposed.
    Like (21)
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    Yes I’m a liberal through and through. Nevertheless, I fully support what NSA is doing they are actually protecting us and their actions should not be up for vote. Stop reading and listening to Russian propaganda. Your intelligence services are not acting against our best interests.
    Like (20)
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    NSA has no domestic mission. Nor should it. The FBI is empowered to warrant surveillance.
    Like (18)
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    Ahh. Don’t you just love the Patriot Act? Not one terrorist plot stopped from all this nonsense. All you yelling it’s illegal, it became legal when this ridiculous Act went into effect and we gave up our privacy for faux security. This has been show to be an expensive project which is a huge waste of time and a monumental storage problem which has produced no results since its inception after 911. It is a flagrant violation of the Constitution and way past time it found itself in the dung heap with many other misguided tremendously expensive military and intelligence programs. Sorry Raymond. This was Bush. Don’t they teach history anymore?
    Like (17)
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    I hate to say this, but it depends on who is in charge. I can no longer trust Republicans on any ethical question. Their support of the Pig Emperor shows me they cannot be trusted. They will not move against him. In reality, I do not know what they are, but the are not Republicans. They have not been Republicans since Reagan.
    Like (16)
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    Yes. This is completely unconstitutional. FISA courts are being used to ignore our rights. Anyone even slightly in favor of the right to the right to privacy should be against NSA spying.
    Like (14)
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    Ummm...Surveillance of trump’s criminal cabal of cronies‘ phone conversations would be good. We know there are crimes, obstruction of justice, bank fraud, tax fraud and more. Ok. Seriously....I think this needs to be carefully considered. I am not sure where to ‘draw the line’. There are valid reasons for intelligence surveillance so we must be careful to balance privacy issues against intelligence and national security issues.
    Like (14)
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    Share
    I believe some Americans are under the impression that a warrant is already required before our data can be accessed by outside sources. The Patriot Act completely overrode these protections and was the source of the massive improper access and misuse of Americans’ data uncovered on October 29, 2013, following publication of classified NSA memos describing bulk data collection programs leaked by Edward Snowden that June. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA_Freedom_Act In as much as it addressed the most acute issues, the Act has addressed the most egregious issues. However, as the Countable “Details” section notes, “Privacy News Online reports that the NSA’s mass collection of call and SMS records is only one of the mass surveillance programs Edward Snowden revealed in 2013. Since the PATRIOT Act’s passage, the NSA’s most significant mass surveillance programs have been kept under wraps thanks to national security letters and FISA. Last year, the Trump administration chose to continue Obama-era NSA upstream surveillance programs despite privacy concerns. At the time, an anonymous White House source said, “We support the clean reauthorization [of NSA surveillance programs PRISM and Upstream], and the administration believes it’s necessary to protect the security of the nation.” Congressional representatives and senators who passed the Freedom Act did so despite awareness that it would require additional future modifications. A case of “the best that could be achieved at the time.” This bill (H.R. 1942) is offered as a bipartisan attempt to address those outstanding issues. It should passed in the House and sent to the Senate for consideration ASAP!
    Like (13)
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    As individuals, our anonymity is private. Why not keep an eye on Trump’s phone conversations? I’m sure they will reveal much. With that big mouth of his, he is far from being anonymous.
    Like (9)
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    No seriously credible terrorist is dumb enough to communicate by phone in America...
    Like (8)
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    No I am opposed to ending this, we have a lot of groups which should be watched domestic terrorist groups ; Muslims, White nationalist, anarchist just to name a few, they must be monitored. #MAGA
    Like (8)
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    Your Uncle will always maintain surveillance on over the airwaves. If you have nothing to hide, I wouldn’t worry. But if you are talking about hurting someone or someplace, then you are probably for this Proposal. Once the listening posts here something of interest then they have to get a warrant. Do’t be so paranoid, you have to put your head in the sand. There are people out there who would love to do something terrible to our country.
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    Yes and no. Only WITH A SUBPOENA FROM A JUDGE...
    Like (7)
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