back to article US Patriot Act's phone spying rules are dead – but that means very little

For the last 36 hours the NSA hasn't been able to collect the metadata on every American's mobile phone calls, and yet the Republic still stands, despite warnings of dire consequences. "A small group of senators is standing in the way. And, unfortunately, some folks are trying to use this debate to score political points," …

  1. Lxbr

    Does anyone actually believe they have stopped collecting metadata?

    So any existing investigation is grandfathered in, and "fighting terrorism" is an investigation. I'm genuinely interested to know if anyone truly believes that Section 215 lapsing has changed what the NSA collects at all?

    1. WonkoTheSane
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Does anyone actually believe they have stopped collecting metadata?

      Bringing Section 215 in didn't actually change anything, so why should removing it?

    2. hplasm
      Big Brother

      Re: Does anyone actually believe they have stopped collecting metadata?

      It does mean that they have to get their rubber stamp altered.

    3. Charles Manning

      It's easy to verify.

      Since the spooks are not using the massive centres to play doom, the power usage will drop massively if they've stopped sucking up meta data.

      Power demand down in Utah? Nope, I didn't think so.

      Which brings to mind a different point. If Obama really believes this Global Warming stuff, then he should shut down these data centres. That would save more power than the whole of USA switching to CFLs.

    4. DXMage

      Re: Does anyone actually believe they have stopped collecting metadata?

      Why yes, our ever law abiding NSA protector lords would never dream to violate civil rights, the law or the constitution. They don't want to control the masses of the world they only want peace and happiness. Sure they may have had a few million violations in total but it was an "honest" mistake. They really work to violate civil rights, the law and the constitution all at the same time. It is a difficult task but know that they are up to the task of hiding the facts from congress because all it takes is a few well placed cameras, a sexy agent with great "people" skills and most congressmen will keep their mouth shut and not do anything to really hinder the NSA.

  2. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    Quis custodiet...

    ... ipsos custodes?

    Even if (or when) they say they've stopped slurping this data, how will we know that a) they have and b) that they haven't found some way of creatively re-evaluating, redefining or simply re-spelling the regulations?

  3. oneeye

    They have demonstrated that they are not trustworthy,so when there are no,or little request from the telecos,that will be telling.(pun?) But there are so many work arounds,that I believe this is only a speed bump. Because of the way the internet works,connections often go outside the US first,only to return to an address inside the US,thus making that information susceptible to interception,as only one example. Plus I just reads about an information gathering agency inside the DOJ that collects vast amounts of information an has over 300 analyst. With 400 employee's total. They work with the FBI,NSA,DOD,etc. I think their abbreviation is FTTTF.

  4. oneeye

    Here is a link to the story about this secret agency.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Got Clue?

    Anyone with a clue knows the importance in this day and age of national security and monitoring electronic communications. If you don't you had better educate yourself.

    1. Hollerith 1

      Re: Got Clue?

      So one chap was the focus of surveillance, pulled a knife when the Feds moved in, and was killed. Now we'll never know if he was innocent, or an innocent nutter, or indeed planning to do something dire. Pulling a knife on Feds with firearms is not the most deadly of threats. I was interested to see that this happened in Boston, where two men also -- sort of -- under surveillance by the Feds, and about whom the Russinas sent at least 'pay attention to these guys' message, managed to kill and wound people at the Boston Marathon. Tell me gain how safe we all are as a result of electronic monitoring, and how necessary it is?

    2. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: Got Clue?

      If he was "under surveillance" then it isn't what this argument is about. This is about intercepting the communications data of the vast majority of people who are not identified and under suspicion.

  6. Bucky 2
    Black Helicopters

    I think it's common knowledge that the NSA was exceeding the authority of even this broadly-worded provision.

    I haven't heard of any independent oversight mechanism that was put in place to keep this from continuing, so we have to assume that they continue to be operating lawlessly.

    So what's one law, more or less?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    We'll see...

    I think we will end up with some version of the USA freedom act. Yes,NSA reform is welcome after nearly 40 years, but considering the dishonesty and opacity of the intelligence establishment, I will be on the lookout for them somehow gaming the system.

  8. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    Well, the NSA has been operating illegally anyway, pre-Snowden they had hidden programs (which were leaked in the New York Times, then when the EFF tried to use those NYT articles in court, the feds claimed the New York Times aritcles were classified and inadmissable.) There've been articles about how, the few times FISA actually said "Hey you have to cut this and that out", the agencies made non-sensical circular logic arguments to justify their illegal activities being legal even if FISA says they are illegal. So I doubt that's stopped.

    BUT, not passing this law begins to swing things away from people like Obama who want to "balance" rights or privacy (which means taking rights or privacy away) towards people who recognize the Constitution guarantees these rights and want to have these rights. This move alone won't do a thing but will start moving things towards the attitude that will reign in the NSA.

  9. GH1618

    It just passed the Senate, but without the McConnell amendments. This is one of very few times that I agreed with Sen. McConnell, but I'm glad it passed in any case. It was cleat that it would pass in some form.

  10. big_D Silver badge

    We've come a long way, kid,

    "This shouldn’t and can't be about politics. This is a matter of national security. Terrorists like al Qaeda and ISIL aren’t suddenly going to stop plotting against us at midnight tomorrow. And we shouldn’t surrender the tools that help keep us safe."

    So we've come from the US saying you should never give up freedom for safety to saying give up your freedom, safety is much more important...

    Sounds like the terrorists have already won that round, to me.

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Terrorists [..] aren’t suddenly going to stop plotting against us at midnight tomorrow"

    Holy crap ! The US of A is overrun by terrists and now they have free reign to wreak havoc and mayhem as they please !

    The thousands of police, FBI agents and all the US military strength will not be able to do anything unless mass surveillance the investigation is put back in place NOW !

  12. Roj Blake

    Remember October 2013?

    That's when the boss of MI5 claimed that the terrorists could hit the UK at will.

    They subsequently didn't.

    This scaremongering that not being able to collect metadata will imperil the US reminds me of that.

  13. Someonehasusedthathandle
    Black Helicopters

    Make it Grey

    Why is it that this is being seen as such a black and white issue?

    It's always put across by both sides of the powers that be that you either accept it or you love terrorists.

    Where is the legislation to simply improve transparency, to put in some oversight, to make the [insert three letter agency here] accountable, to make them obey the laws and to make at least some of the information on closed cases public so that there is the feeling that it works.

    Is compromise so hard?

    1. GH1618

      Re: Make it Grey

      The new bill is a compromise, and it does improve transparency of the FISA court.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022