Thanks to Freedom Act: NSA Bulk Data Collection Coming Back to Haunt you

The Obama administration is seeking a temporary restart in its call records bulk collection program using the same law that banned it previously by exploiting a provision in the USA Freedom Act. 

“Thanks” to the USA Freedom Act, the Obama administration is trying to get affirmation for the revival of its metadata collection program. The government apparently sees the unconventional legal situation as an opportunity for temporarily reinstating its bulk data collection program.  

The surveillance reformers secured a symbolic yet tangible victory when Congress was stalled out this Sunday as the NSA was forcefully asked to call off its bulk collection program without legal authorization. Now when the USA Freedom Act has been officially made a law ensuring the complete shutdown of this program in the near future, it is surprisingly coming back from the dead.  

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According to a report from the Guardian, the NSA plans to bring back its call records collection system by exploiting a provision in the USA Freedom Act that gives the agency six months time before the program’s complete elimination.  

The bill was supposed to be passed before the expiration of the Patriot Act therefore, the six-month extension was given to the NSA in order to make preparations. However, none of us expected that the NSA would use this extended time as a chance to revive it again. 

This revival will be temporary as the NSA still is legally obligated to end it in December and it is highly unlikely that the president or the NSA would seek an extension in this deadline. But, it is evident that NSA is still committed to sustaining this program even if it is temporary.  

US officials confirmed that soon they will be asking a secret surveillance court regarding revival of this program in the name of “transitioning” the local surveillance efforts to the telecom firms generating the “call detail records.” 

The officials didn’t say whether the secret FISA court will be hearing arguments from the newly formed “amicus” that is empowered by the Freedom Act to compete the government’s dispute.  

Marc Raimondi, the spokesman of the Justice Department’s National security stated:

“We are taking the appropriate steps to obtain a court order reauthorizing the program. If such an order is granted, we’ll make an appropriate announcement at that time as we have with respect to past renewal applications.” 

Senator Ron Wyden, one of the main congressional advocates rooting for surveillance reform, warned the government to not revive this program now when it has been rejected by the Congress and declared illegal by a federal appeals court. 

The Guardian
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