Dianne Feinstein’s FISA Improvements Act is a dog and pony show. On the surface it is stated to curb NSA spying, when in fact it increases and entrenches it!
Now the Senate Intelligence Committee has given a thumbs up on this bill.
Soon the NSA will be gathering the content of all our communication under the pretext they are not gathering your information!
The bill for the first time explicitly authorizes, and therefore entrenches in statute, the bulk collection of communications records, subject to more or less the same rules already imposed by the FISA Court. It endorses, rather than prohibits, what the NSA is already doing. Moreover, it imposes those restrictions only with respect to bulk collection of communications records—which is dangerous, because it signals to the FISA Court that Congress implicitly endorses the use of Section 215 to collect other records in bulk without comparable restrictions. (The key phrase “acquisition in bulk,” incidentally, does not appear to be given any concrete definition.)
Perhaps most troubling, the bill contains a section stipulating that bulk orders for communications records may not acquire the contents of any communications. That sounds good, right? The problem is, under canons of judicial interpretation, a narrow and explicit prohibition on getting content under bulk orders for communications records could easily be read to imply that content can be acquired via non-bulk orders, or even via bulk orders for other types of records.