WASHINGTON (June 30, 2015) – The spies are back in business.
With the stroke of a pen, a federal court resurrected the NSA’s bulk phone record collection program Tuesday.
The surveillance program purportedly authorized under the Patriot Act lapsed earlier this month and was ultimately terminated when the president signed the USA Freedom Act into law. But the FISA court approved a request to revive the bulk collection of Americans’ phone record for five months, as allowed under the new law.
Essentially, the court restarted the spy program so the government can shut it down.
This application presents the question whether the recently-enacted USA Freedom Act … ended the bulk collection of telephone metadata,” the order, issued Monday and obtained by National Journal, reads. “The short answer is yes. But in doing so, Congress deliberately carved out a 180-day period following the date of enactment in which such collection was specifically authorized. For this reason, the Court approves the application in this case.”
Once again, the FISA Court passed on protecting the privacy of Americans, instead siding with the NSA. This serves as yet another example of the federal government failing to limit the power of the federal government. So, for the next 180 days, the spies will continue scooping up your phone records with no oversight or accountability.
Granted, the revival of dragnet surveillance will only last until November. By then, the NSA must transition to a targeted program. The agency will be able to request records from telecommunications companies as-needed, with FISA Court approval.
The same FISA Court that just resurrected bulk warrantless surveillance.
“These judges are the people we’re supposed to depend on to restrain the NSA and ensure it doesn’t violate our rights?” OffNow founder and deputy director Michael Boldin asked. “Seems to me they’re doing a piss-poor job.”
In fact, the FISA Court almost always rubber-stamps the requests of the federal government. Since 1979, the FISA Court has rejected a grand total of 12 applications.
This court ruling once again proves that the federal government has no real interest in reining in its spy programs. Real reform will require pressure and action from outside the Beltway.
OffNow has developed a plan to drive substantive changes in the way the surveillance state does business. Click HERE to learn more.