It is seriously called “The Liberty Act.” Orwell lives.
Indeed, although the bill does aim to curtail some illegal NSA activities and abuses that shouldn’t have happened in the first place, it also codifies into law the bulk collection of Americans’ data. It also codifies the NSA’s ability to share data with other domestic agencies.
President Obama also expanded some executive rules last year that allowed the NSA to share raw intelligence data without a warrant with 16 other agencies. Because the shared data is raw, Americans’ data can be seen by agents from any of the 17 agencies, without any judicial approval. Such broad access may also put this data at risk from cyber attacks.
It’s not clear if the new USA Liberty Act, which does require a warrant when Americans’ communications content is accessed by the other 16 agencies, including the FBI, overrides those rules. The USA Liberty Act is also much more relaxed when it comes to metadata (phone or email records, etc.), requiring only a supervisor’s approval for access.
What is clear is that until last year, the so-called “incidental” data collected on Americans through foreign intelligence programs was supposed to be minimized and then automatically purged. However, President Obama’s expanded rules now allow 17 agencies to scour through that data before any minimization or purging happens.
Meanwhile, the USA Liberty Act seems to imply that data will be kept long enough that there will be enough time for domestic agencies to get warrants from judges or other type of approvals to obtain it. In other words, the supposed “incidental” collection is starting to seem less incidental and more purposeful.