back to article After USA FREEDOM Act's failure, what's next for mass surveillance?

This week the US Senate failed to get the required 60 votes to beat a Republican filibuster on the USA FREEDOM Act, which would have instituted mild controls on the bulk collection of communications data on American citizens. The vote was largely along party lines, although Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) voted with the Democrats to …

  1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die

    In January, the Republicans assume control of BOTH houses of Congress. They'll make a big show of caring what The People think and may even go so far as to stage a "squeaker" wherein the "Let's Fuck The World" er, "Patriot" Act survives by one or two votes.

    The reality of USA-ian politics now is that there is diminishing difference between Republicans and Democrats - BOTH are out to fuck everyone. The only difference is in whom they really serve. The Republicans are owned lock, stock, and barrel by Big Business. The Democrats are beholden to those who believe Big Government is the answer to absolutely everything. The METHODS used by both are essentially the same - screw the taxpayers, take from one group and give to another, line their own pockets with other folks' money.

    1. Dan Paul

      Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die @Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      We really don't know who owns which Republicans.... we can only speculate. The Dummycrats are completely owned by Wall Street, Hollywood, Insurance Companies, Big Media, Cable Co/Telco's etc. because their strings are not very transparent. You can hope but you cannot change the liars "spots". "Keep your plan and your Doctor", indeed the largest lie ever perpetrated on the American people outside of "I am not a crook".

      There is a chance, however slight; that the recent Republican victories in the Senate might actually result in some independence from "ownership" now that something could actually be accomplished. You may yet be surprised.

      The "Patriot" Act sticks in a lot of craws. It hasn't brought enough results for what it costs to operate and that is affecting billions. However, some of the technology capability has proved useful however intrusive. "An once of prevention is worth a pound of cure"

      Please feel free to bitch about the US, when Putin starts his march across Europe. It's coming...

      He doesn't give a shit about NATO or the UN. He will take what he wants just like Hitler.

      1. Zippy's Sausage Factory

        Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die

        I'd say the probability of Putin staging a march across Europe is minimal. He's an ex-KGB man and whatever else are his faults, from what I've seen of his speeches, I think he's well aware that the chances of that ending well are slim. They're probably about the same as Washington ordering a landing on European soil for exactly the same purpose. Well, slightly less, in my view.

        1. Captain DaFt

          Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die

          "They're probably about the same as Washington ordering a landing on European soil for exactly the same purpose. Well, slightly less, in my view."

          Putin would use troops. the US is using 'trade agreements'.

      2. lucki bstard

        Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die @Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        Since the US has approx 60,000 troops based in Western Europe, the US is already well ahead of any Russian invasion.

        But since the US already spend more on their defence industry and have a great signal intercept infrastructure, surely the US would already know what Putin is doing.

        What you fail to understand is why launch an invasion when you can just buy the politicians? Its cheaper and probably better return on investment then their defence spending (US last won a war?? Not too sure when that was).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die @Ugotta B. Kiddingme

          The US hasn't won a war for a while because we haven't officially declared war since Korea. We fight 'off the books' against foes that have no uniforms or much in the way of home bases, without clear reasons for starting, goals to accomplish, or strategies for exit.

          We've built up a gigantic military that could probably fight and win a 'traditional' war against the entire rest of the world combined (or at least as a taxpayer I'd argue we'd better be able to, if we're supposed to be getting our money's worth on that military budget) but we don't fight those kind of wars. Fat lot of good aircraft carriers and B2 bombers are against Al Qaeda, ISIL or Saddam Hussein.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die @Ugotta B. Kiddingme

            Fat lot of good a standing army is against cruise missiles, ICBMs and drones.

        2. Salts

          Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die @Ugotta B. Kiddingme

          @ucki bstard

          Depends on how you judge winning a war, many would say there no winners in war, however IMHO the US won WWII they where after all the only country that came out better than when they went in.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die @Ugotta B. Kiddingme

            "...the US won WWII they were after all the only country that came out better than when they went in."

            Incorrect. After WWII the US was financially depressed, as you'd expect after years of massive unproductive spending and millions of unemployed soldiers returning from overseas. What made the difference is that FDR's socialistic meddling was then largely swept away, allowing the economy to perform efficiently. Within three years it was moving along just fine, thank you.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die @Ugotta B. Kiddingme

              Nice revisionist history, sounds like it came directly from Rush's mouth. The productive capacity of much of the industrialized world was turned into rubble during WW II. The US stood alone with a completely undamaged industrial sector - having in fact a surplus of productive capacity thanks to ramping up wartime production.

              It took a few years to retool from making tanks and bombs to cars and fridges, but once they did there was huge latent demand for such products in the US since production of consumer goods had been massively curtailed in favor of war production. What's more, US consumers had plenty of savings with which to buy them, since they hadn't been able to buy stuff during the war, and had instead been buying war bonds. A lot of people had spare cash, too - an all time high percentage of the population had been gainfully employed and earning wages (either as a soldier or "Rosie the Riveter")

              A combination of tremendous productive capacity in the US, little competition on that front, and consumers with a lot of savings (first in the US, later in the rest of the world) was responsible for the post war US economic growth, not your conservative rewriting of history.

              1. This post has been deleted by its author

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die @Ugotta B. Kiddingme

                "It took a few years to retool from making tanks and bombs to cars and fridges, but once they did there was huge latent demand for such products in the US since production of consumer goods had been massively curtailed in favor of war production."

                Precisely. At the end of the war the US was materially poorer than when the war started, just as I stated. If you want to quibble about the exact mix of causes for the postwar boom, fine, but it's not revisionist to point out that the New Deal was largely dead by that point. Or are you suggesting that the end of the New Deal had nothing to do with the boom? Need I remind you that it was the ND that kept the US economy from recovering out of the Great Depression for so very long? Kinda like what we're experiencing now, don't you think?

                All your other points are true as well, but none of them disprove my contention, altho I admit I ought to have at least mentioned some of them as well.

      3. henrydddd

        Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die @Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        "here is a chance, however slight; that the recent Republican victories in the Senate might actually result in some independence from "ownership" now that something could actually be accomplished"

        The Republicans are the ones who blocked this bill. How is a party that wants the NSA spying going to change anything? The republican party is controlled by ultra-conservatives and the tea party. The tea party was formed by the Koch brothers and big tobacco to further their interests. So you have the democrats who represent every fringe element in society and the republicans who represent the wealthy. Where do I fit in?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die @Ugotta B. Kiddingme

          Don't blame the republicans alone. Bush started the current set of abuses, but Clinton's administration was pushing for the Clipper Chip, and Obama has been in the white house for six years and had plenty of time to reform spying abuses - instead he expanded them. The democrats also controlled both houses of congress for the first two years.

          It is a good thing we were able to head the Clipper Chip off at the pass. At least with encryption we have a fighting chance against the NSA. If they had been successful in pushing that and criminalizing use of non-compliant encryption, then stuff like Apple and Google encrypting our phones would have been pointless since the Feds would have the keys anyway. And Apple's sales in China would be almost non-existent and Android would have been forked years ago and Google's flavor of Android would be selling only in the US and UK. The cost to the US economy would probably be in the trillions.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die @Ugotta B. Kiddingme

            And don't forget Reagan issuing Executive Order 12333 and Carter building Echelon. Expansion of Executive powers really goes as far back, if not further, to Lincoln suspending Habeas Corpus.

        2. earl grey
          Unhappy

          Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die @Ugotta B. Kiddingme

          just keep paying your taxes, comrade.

        3. Fatman

          Re: The "Patriot Act" won't be allowed to die @Ugotta B. Kiddingme

          So you have the democrats who represent every fringe element in society and the republicans who represent the wealthy. Where do I fit in?

          Short answer: YOU DON'T!!!

  2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

    Sir

    Can someone explain to me the logic of allowing one bill to be linked to another bill so it's possible to be voting for two diametrically opposed ideals at the same time?

    What are the obstacles to setting it up that way?

    1. sisk

      Re: Sir

      There ARE no obstacles to setting it up that way, and in fact it's pretty much the norm in the US Congress. Any bill that actually gets passed comes with riders tacked on by the other side. Sadly that's the only way to get anything done in Congress these days. Our political system really is that broken.

    2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      Re: Sir

      Easy. It muddies the water and makes it hard for the voters/taxpayers/those-who-still-give-a-shit to keep up with what's REALLY going on. A significant percentage of politicians over here began as lawyers. The US legal system started out a couple hundred years ago with lofty ideals and principles. However, it has devolved into an unworkable mess where The Truth is irrelevant, The Facts mean little, whomever can afford the most clever lawyer usually wins.[/jaded]

    3. PleebSmash
    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Sir Runcible Spoon

      It is essentially a "poison pill" to designed to bring the purists to your side (voting against it) a bill that would otherwise have a majority will fail to pass.

      And you can see this worked, as for example Rand Paul voted against it because of the poison pill that was inserted by his republican colleagues who were mostly against it (some because they believe government spying is good/necessary, some because they're just reflexively voting against what the democrats want)

      Of course, there are many examples where the same happens in the reverse and democrats poison republican bills. The rules of the house/senate and their committees are quite complex and allow a lot of ways for this type of thing to happen. Neither side has any incentive to change this, because they both benefit from it in being to either stop what the "other guy" wants to do, or water it down.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: @Sir Runcible Spoon

        Thanks for the additional info - it just galls me that these politicians have the audacity to claim they are part of a democracy*.

        *Unless my understanding of the word is at great odds with it's practical usage - which is highly likely considering the number of words that are 're-purposed' these days.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
          1. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Rol Silver badge

    Well...

    After the Crimean takeover, Ukrainian upheaval, Boko Haram, Isis.......

    I am really glad the entire world has been subjected to the Patriot Act as things would have been a lot worse.

    1. NumptyScrub

      Re: Well...

      If you add up all the deaths from every terrorist attack in the last 10 years, are they more or less than the deaths from every motor vehicle accident in the last 10 years? I will go out on a limb and claim that motor vehicles are more dangerous than terrorism, without actually doing any research into it.

      The US Intelligence Services demand the right to ignore the US Constitution, in order to protect you from something that potentially kills and injures less people than texting while driving.

      If you support the PATRIOT Act because it protects you from terrorists, which of your Constitutional rights will you willingly sacrifice to protect you from the far more pressing threat of "other drivers"?

      1. Financegozu

        FYI, in the USA alone in 2013 more than 35'000 deaths in car accidents

        When will they do at last anything against the killer-cars?

    2. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: Well...

      @Rol

      "After the Crimean takeover, Ukrainian upheaval, Boko Haram, Isis......."

      May I remind you that all those events/movements happened after the Snowden revelations, but during a period where the NSA & Friends had no real restrictions on their powers stemming from those reservations.

      In short, all this surveillance that has been put in place did diddly-squat to stop Boko Haram, the Crimean annexation, or any of the things you listed.

      And your response to this failed surveillance is that we need more surveillance?

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Well...

      Rol, I am fairly sure you were indulging in irony with your comment, something I would appreciate, however, if you were completely serious; you are an arse!

      1. Rol Silver badge

        Re: Well...

        I'm glad someone had the wit to grasp my lowest form. As for the rest, I do hope they get their shopping delivered to minimise their contact with society as much as possible.

  4. WonkoTheSane
    Headmaster

    US Politics needs one "Lone Wolf"

    Someone who will sneak a rider onto an unrelated, but absolutely essential bill, which bans riders on bills.

    1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

      Re: US Politics needs one "Lone Wolf"

      That would be nice. It really would. However, I do not believe it will ever happen. What US Politics really needs is equally unlikely - a clean sweep.

      The Plan:

      1. Vote them ALL out. Every last one. Replace every single elected official.

      2. If The People's business doesn't start getting done in a more sensible/reasonable/cost-effective manner, repeat step one as many times as necessary.

      That, of course, will never happen. Many folks don't even bother to vote. Most of those who do are more concerned with updating Farcebook or what's on telly to be bothered with politics. However, if one is going to dream, might as well dream big...

  5. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Happy

    Has anyone asked A$$nut?

    His latest attempt to wriggle out of extradition to Sweden has just failed (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30129453) so he should be due to pop up and make another 'rousing speech' for the sheep soon (otherwise they'll forget all about him).

  6. logistix

    Lots of people have known what has been going on for decades, not just the people working in Fort Meade, so this doesn't really seem like big news to me. You know, with Tempest, Echelon, Menwith Hill England, etc. I guess it took 15 years for the internet to evolve and for more people to embrace technology and understand how electronics actually WORK and then once that's is in place, some guy with big balls to actually expose thousands of documents? So if all this was exposed 10 years ago or something there wouldn't have been that big of a shock and awe on the American citizens??

  7. logistix

    In my 34 years, I've never had the pleasure of my door getting kicked in, phone call, visit by men in black, home raid or been put on the no fly list or stopped in customs crossing boarders. Is the system broken? Did my relatives working high up say leave him alone he's a good kid with a big mouth? I'll never know. Maybe they just like to go after journalists or people with millions of Twitter and FaceBook followers??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/i-m-all-right-jack

      Plenty haven't been quite so lucky as you.

  8. Chris G Silver badge

    The Reality

    Is that whatever legislation is passed in the US, UK or anywhere else, now that the technology exists and the will to use it is there spooks will continue to spy on us.

    Anybody who thinks an act of Parliament or Congress etc is going to allow everyone the complete freedom to say what they like via any means of electronic communications without any interception is to say the least a little naive.

    Encryption, VPN, use whatever you can, always.

  9. Chairo

    Republican minority Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said on Tuesday. "We live in a dangerous world, and the threat by ISIL only makes it more so."

    The sad truth is, the world was always a dangerous place and most likely it will stay this way. That's why police and military were invented and got a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. To prevent them from misusing this monopoly checks and balances were introduced.

    The PATRIOT act weakens these checks and balances. Does this make the world safer? Perhaps. It's trading one risk against another on the cost of your individual freedom.

    But is it really a risk? There are so many examples of countries that failed, because these checks didn't work or exist. Military putsches are rather the rule than the exception. Is the US an exception? Again perhaps. The US government seems to be happy to bet on it. Hopefully they don't lose!

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Is the US an exception?

      No it isn't. Actually, the Government of the People that was envisaged by The Founding Fathers has already failed, but the putsch was much more subtle in style.

      Today your elected officials are all part of a vast theater of puppets whose strings are tightly controlled by those who openly lobby them, pay their campaign costs and shower them in money under various forms, and You The People are totally oblivious to it. As long as you have your Facebook and your Superbowl, everything is a-okay.

      Once upon a time a President got impeached because he stuck a few microphones in an embassy.

      Today the entire world is being listened to and you all just sit on your couches and dip into the Cheetos.

      And you still believe that the US is succeeding as a democracy ?

      Wake up.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ass clowns abound

    The majority of people have no clue when it comes to security, terrorism or privacy. The knee-jerk reactions are typical of the clueless ass clowns who can't spend the time to educate themselves but they whine about some perceived freedom they are losing, when nothing has changed other than the media hyping a bunch of nonsense.

    1. Cardinal
      Stop

      Re: Ass clowns abound

      Our thanks to the last speaker, Herr 'H', for his informed contribution to the debate, and now we turn to our next sp......

      What's that you say Mein Herr?

      Ah!.... I see!.....Well apparently, that was in fact not only the last speaker, but the last debate....EVER!

  11. Random Q Hacker

    Filibuster the renewal!

    If Rand Paul or one of the Dems really care about freedom, they can filibuster the renewal of the Patriot Act. But I suspect excuses will be made and resolve will falter...

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