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Surveillance Watchdog Concludes Metadata Program Is Illegal, "Should End" 138

Posted by timothy
from the are-you-now-or-have-you-ever-been dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Three out of five PCLOB board members are in agreement: The NSA spy programs are illegal.. Unfortunately, these lawyers are not in a position to act or make any changes, only to advise congress and the president. Could this be the start of change to come? 'According to leaked copies of a forthcoming report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), the government's metadata collection program "lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.'" Not surprisingly, the Obama administration disagrees.
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Surveillance Watchdog Concludes Metadata Program Is Illegal, "Should End"

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  • first submission (Score:5, Informative)

    by schneidafunk (795759) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:16PM (#46048105)

    Also submitted by me 4 hours earlier... but who's keeping track :)
    http://slashdot.org/submission... [slashdot.org]

    • I like yours better. Yours has better punctuation.
      • by Professr3 (670356) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:49PM (#46048369)
        That's probably why they picked this one instead...
        • Could this be the start of change to come?

          Unlikely. More likely is they'll just make up some sophist nonsense, the same way they did when they started cooking up ex post facto laws, and viola, they'll declare surveillance as "not surveillance." It's truly amazing (and depressing) to see the depths that the higher courts plumb in order to excuse the direct violation of their oaths.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I was the one that submitted the story. Seems some minor changes were made by the editor. Among those changes are the inclusion of a double period in the first line.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The only time the government has ever shut something down is if it is costing it too much money. And no one has attacked the NSA's finances.

    • You mean like the programs set up to deal with the drought in the 1930s which continue to cost billions of dollars in excessive food prices and waste farmer's resources?

      I WISH government programs that were too expensive would be shut down.

      I can't think of ANY significant federal programs that have been shut down.

    • by Githaron (2462596)
      Since when does the government shut down a program? They just borrow and print more money and keep adding new programs.
    • by rusty0101 (565565)

      Programs are shut down for one of two reasons, someone isn't getting their pork barrel program funded and is looking for a program to shut down in retaliation, and the program contributes to the personal embarrassment of a congresscritter. To get the NSA metadata program shut down will probably require that the supporters of that program in congress publicly publish the metadata of their own, their family and their staff's phones.

      They should be in suport of that, after all there's nothing incriminating or c

  • Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LookIntoTheFuture (3480731) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:20PM (#46048147)
    Surveillance Watchdog Concludes Metadata Program Is Illegal, "Should End"

    Any rational person with half a brain would come to the same conclusion.
    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:33PM (#46048241) Homepage Journal

      Surveillance Watchdog Concludes Metadata Program Is Illegal, "Should End"

        Any rational person with half a brain would come to the same conclusion.

      Sadly, more people are spending the morning texting each other over last night's arrest of a rich kid with poor self discipline.

    • Re:Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:48PM (#46048365)

      "Any rational person with half a brain would come to the same conclusion."

      The real question is, how did people like that manage to get onto an oversight board?

      • by Wootery (1087023)

        Good question. This oversight board clearly wasn't subject to the proper oversight.

        • by SirGarlon (845873)

          What we need is better oversight of the oversight of oversight boards!

          And who will oversee that? Eventually, after enough layers of oversight, Congress.

          We need a better Congress! :-)

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        >The real question is, how did people like that manage to get onto an oversight board?

        "We apologise again for the fault in the overseeing. Those responsible for overseeing the oversight board will now be overseen by a double-meta-oversight board"

        ("A Cøngressman once bit my sister... No realli!")

      • by liamoohay (765499)
        It's not outside the realm of plausibility. Three out of five only comes out to a brain and a half in total.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Surveillance Watchdog Concludes Metadata Program Is Illegal, "Should End"

      Surveillance Watchdog has no authority to determine what is legal or illegal.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        This, so very much.

        It may be a high-ranking opinion, but it's still just an opinion. Until the courts weigh in with their opinions, this is little more than a show to make the case that the administration sympathizes with the public. Another, even higher-ranking opinion will still land on the President's desk saying that the program is legal, but the public won't rally around that one, of course. Then the President can cite conflicting opinions, and defer any action to the Supreme Court, which can't act wit

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      But it wont.

      Because this has always been more about control than effectiveness.

      At some point they will (if not already) start using this information for nefarious purposes such as squashing dissent, manipulation and blackmail and corporate gain. Most likely to tell the police robots which citizen to arrest and torture next.

      And when that joyous time comes the NSA will be ready and waiting...

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        They've already stated that they've used it for squashing dissent and blackmail against "extremists" of some sort haven't they? The term "extremists" can be very flexible as well.

        • Re:Duh (Score:5, Informative)

          by metlin (258108) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @04:53PM (#46050149) Journal

          It's even worse than you know.

          I posted this on another thread [slashdot.org], but I quote below:

          The worst travesty to date is the Supreme Court decision in Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project. It was brought to court by the Obama administration and argued by Elena Kagan says that even talking to terrorist groups for "strategies of nonviolence" can be considered advice, which should be considered material support. And they won. So, if you tried to talk a terrorist out of their terrorist acts and move to a path of peace, you would be providing material support. Heck, if you proselytized to a terrorist, you'd be treated the same way. These are executive decisions -- without review, without recourse, which is what makes them worse.

          With draconian laws like this, all you need to do is have a chat on the dietary benefits of celery with a suspected terrorist and you could get be held without charge on the grounds of "national security".

          • by Dripdry (1062282)

            Part of the never-ending war.
            If we can't communicate with them, the only solution is to blow them up! That will work. Always has. Pay NO attention tot he truckloads of money behind the curtain...

        • Well there you go then.

          And those robots...they are already in development.

          And as always this is what we know about. Snowden would not have been privy to all of it as he only had access to the communal NSA system.

          For example Cheney was well known for his large "safe full of documents" in his office - I doubt anything in there was on the NSA system...

      • by memnock (466995)

        Do you mean something like this [slashdot.org]? On the one hand, the government blatantly tips its hand about being able to track people and the protestors shouldn't be surprised. On the other, I bet it was still a bit of a shock nonetheless to be one of the people receiving the text, realizing that the govt knows your steps.

        Perhaps it would be better to just use walkie talkies and leave the phone somewhere "safe" if one is planning on going to a protest. This way, a mass movement can still be kind of coordinated without

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Indeed. I think the debate over the legality is over. It's illegal.

      The debate is how many lifetimes the responsible generals and Obama should spend in prison.

    • by subanark (937286)

      I don't see how this is "obvious".

      You people (as I see much of slashdot agreeing on this issue) have grown up under conditions where privacy is expected, and the more someone knows about you, the more they can use it against you. This all comes about due to the individualism nature of western culture and the overall selfish nature that we are heading towards (mostly due to a move towards an oligarchy form of government). Places in the world that haven't moved towards these directions don't have any issue wi

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Places in the world that haven't moved towards these directions don't have any issue with the government watching over us.

        Nonsense. If your government is made up of imperfect humans--and all of them are, obviously--then it is a serious issue when the government collects private information of this nature on almost all of its citizens. The fact that some people have no problem with it just means they're naive. "It can't happen here!" Oh, yes it can. Your government is just as human as anyone else's. If you're doing something the government doesn't like, and they have this type of surveillance, then you will likely become a targ

    • My thoughts exactly.

      People who do not like what X is doing. Doesn't like the fact that X is doing it.

      Tomorrows headline.
      Republican Groups has serious issues, about the policy goals of the Democrats.

    • by Greyfox (87712)
      The Government doesn't see it that way. Guess whose view wins.
    • That doesn't explain why a government watchdog would, then.

    • Surveillance Watchdog Concludes Metadata Program Is Illegal, "Should End"

        Any rational person with half a brain would come to the same conclusion.

      However, two of the five people on that committee had no problem with the program. What do schools teach anymore that 40% of the people on this committee and at least that percentage of the population and people in Congress believe it's not unconstitutional?

  • Illegal eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:21PM (#46048155) Journal

    So it's illegal. So I guess someone's going to go to prison for the crime then.

    Uh...

    ba-dum-tschhh....?

    It's really sad that the idea of widespread illegalactivities by the government yielding prison sentences for those involved is a joke. But that half ounce of pot you got caught with...

    • So it's illegal. So I guess someone's going to go to prison for the crime then.

      They have become above the law. Everyone in the world should be afraid.

    • Re:Illegal eh? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mark-t (151149) <[markt] [at] [lynx.bc.ca]> on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:46PM (#46048347) Journal

      This.

      What is the point of saying it is illegal at all?

      So to be perfectly honest, and in all practicality, it might as well just be perfectly legal, since they are just going to do it anyways... and telling them it's illegal won't make them stop.

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        This.

        What is the point of saying it is illegal at all?

        So to be perfectly honest, and in all practicality, it might as well just be perfectly legal, since they are just going to do it anyways... and telling them it's illegal won't make them stop.

        The phrase: fait accompli comes to mind.

        The worst of it is, it has been coming for over 20 years, beginning in the Reagan administration, when the groundwork was laid - the technology has evolved to the point it is considered a bummer of sufficient magnitude for people to raise a fuss over.

        • by lazarith (2649605)
          If you're going to start pointing fingers at an administration, at least cite your source/provide evidence. What groundwork was laid during the Reagan administration?
          • by ackthpt (218170)

            If you're going to start pointing fingers at an administration, at least cite your source/provide evidence. What groundwork was laid during the Reagan administration?

            It's been mentioned many times, but I guess you didn't see it. Executive Order 12333, signed by Ronnie in 1981. 9/11 simply gave Bush Jr. enough national fear of enemies who may walk among us to broaden it. [fas.org] Despite a stated goal of preserving civil rights and right to privacy, Section 1.4 (a), (b), (g) & (i) are sufficiently vague to cover what has been going on.

        • by PortHaven (242123)

          Really, if you're going to look at the groundwork, you've got to go back to America's worst and first fascist president. FDR....

    • by memnock (466995)

      While one or two people on the committee were probably lawyers, I don't know if it's really up to them to declare the program illegal. They can give an opinion saying they think it's illegal, but really, it can only be declared illegal, or in other words, struck down, by a court. It'd be nice if the article made that distinction. It leads one to think that this committee has just done all the heavy lifting for the libertarians protesting the NSA's activities.

      Since this was a committee appointed by governmen

    • by jriding (1076733)

      That is correct. It is against the law. So every single congressman and woman (both repubs and dems) who not only voted for it in the beginning but renewed the laws (with gusto watch the interviews) then complained how the law was used should go to prison. Making a law then complaining that it is used is a bad law!

      My 2 cents

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:23PM (#46048161) Homepage

    Those who run this will continue to say it's legal, and even if it isn't legal, it's Too Important to stop doing it.

    And then they'll just have to find more creative ways to hide that people are being charged on the basis of illegal spying -- why no your honor, this was a routine traffic stop, and his laptop fell open.

    Because, I'm pretty sure I've seen stories about how the spy agencies have been briefing law enforcement in how to cover up the involvement of the three-letter-agencies.

    So, they'll continue to break the law, and then they'll just lie about where the information came from.

    The comparisons to the Stasi get more relevant every day, and many of us are old enough to remember the old "papers please, comrade" jokes.

    Sadly, we're heading there, to the applause of some, and horror of others.

    • by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:34PM (#46048251) Homepage

      Because, I'm pretty sure I've seen stories about how the spy agencies have been briefing law enforcement in how to cover up the involvement of the three-letter-agencies.

      Here's one [arstechnica.com].

      And here's a Wikipedia starting point [wikipedia.org].

    • by Bugler412 (2610815) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:46PM (#46048349)
      It's called "parallel construction", the three letter agency drops a clue to the more direct enforcement people about who to watch and where to look, then the direct enforcement types build a case that does not use the original evidence provided by the three letter agency. Denying you your due process rights since you cannot confront or dispute the original evidence that clued them in.
      • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:56PM (#46048433) Homepage

        Which means sooner or later they will be doing this for people who disagree politically, or who oppose funding increases, or just because they can.

        When your state security can put anybody on the radar of law enforcement and conceal their involvement, then it will be abused, and possibly for personal gain (your ex's new husband needs some closer scrutiny maybe?)

        This just smacks of some of the worst of McCarthyism where lives can be ruined because someone decides it's convenient.

        You don't have a free society when you can be subject to trumped up charges used to mask the real reasons. But increasingly, 'free' is irrelevant under the program of "appearing safe".

        Oh, we see you criticized our agency ... let's see what we can dig up, oooh, says here you're having an affair, that should be enough to discredit you and draw attention away from us.

    • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday January 23, 2014 @03:10PM (#46048637)

      even if it isn't legal, it's Too Important to stop doing it.

      I am sick and tired of hearing the Government say this. Usefulness is not a valid criterium for arguing the Constitutionality of a law!

      Even the board's statement (quoted in the summary" that the spying "has shown only limited value" is a non-sequitur and should not have been mentioned because doing so lends credibility to the false premise that usefulness is relevant.

      • I understand where you're coming from. However, consider the following.

        The Constitution is quite clear that "the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". However, you can't bear arms in the White House,
        and that's Constitutional. You have a right to bear arms. The government has a duty to protect the president. The usefulness ("furtherance of a
        legitimate government interest") is larger than the freedom cost of prohibiting carry in the White House and a limited number of other locations.

        As the c

        • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday January 23, 2014 @05:35PM (#46050693)

          The Constitution is quite clear that "the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". However, you can't bear arms in the White House, and that's Constitutional. You have a right to bear arms. The government has a duty to protect the president. The usefulness ("furtherance of a legitimate government interest") is larger than the freedom cost of prohibiting carry in the White House and a limited number of other locations.

          IMO, the reason that these things don't conflict is not because you don't have the right to bear arms everywhere you go, but rather because you don't necessarily have the right to go into the White House.

      • Usefulness is not a valid criterium for arguing the Constitutionality of a law!

        That needs some fine tuning.

        Compelling-State-Interest-Test Law & Legal Definition [uslegal.com]

        Compelling-state-interest-test refers to a method of determining the constitutional validity of a law. Under this test, the government’s interest is balanced against the individual’s constitutional right to be free of law. However, a law will be upheld only if the government’s interest is strong enough.

        Tackling the most important topics of law school, Part 6a: Constitutional judicial review and strict scrutiny [thomsonreuters.com]
        Tackling the most important topics of law school, Part 6b: Rational basis, “with teeth,” and intermediate scrutiny [thomsonreuters.com]

        • Yeah, fuck that. That's the same kind of argument the government used to justify the Japanese internment during WWII. It was bullshit then and it's bullshit now.

          • So how would you have handled the German American Bund [youtube.com] Nazi patriotic organization in the US? Keep in mind the role played by ethnic Germans or collaborators in undermining the defense of various nations at the time, including Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Norway, all of which fell to German occupation, in some cases with no resistance? (There were also Japanese patriotic organizations.) None of those nations freed themselves, they were liberated by the Allies.

            • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday January 23, 2014 @09:35PM (#46052835)

              By handling them exactly the same way NAZIs get handled today: approving their parade permits and ignoring them otherwise. And then, if anybody -- NAZI or otherwise -- commits a crime, prosecute them for that crime according to normal judicial procedure.

              Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Norway, by the way, were a Hell of a lot closer to Germany than the US was, both culturally and geographically, and also did not have the same tradition and laws of freedom that we had. Very little about their experience would have been applicable.

            • Oh, by the way -- before you object to my position expressed previously, consider this: If it were okay to ignore the rule of law for "useful" "national security" purposes and I were in charge, your cowardly, totalitarian ass would be among the first up against the wall.

              Be glad that rule of law exists.

    • by virtigex (323685) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @03:12PM (#46048665)
      Police lying about how they obtained evidence (because they obtained it illegally) is called "parallel construction". Amazingly, US law enforcement treat it as just another tool they can use, rather than a method for committing perjury and circumventing the Fourth Amendment. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/... [eff.org]
    • by Nerdfest (867930)

      The applause is only until they do something the government doesn't like, but they generally don't realize that.

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:23PM (#46048167)

    Since it has already passed muster with the courts, Congress, and President, I doubt there will be much outcome. They are advisors, not "deciders."

    • Correct. Government self-justifies increased power for itself. Nothing new here for millenia. Move along, folks.

      The course of action is to vote these people out at the next election. Let the ones even who stand silently by be afraid.

      • Here's where we hit the next wall. Even if we completely purged every elected official from every level of government via the election process (damned near impossible since they have ballot access rigged in their favor too) then you hit the next level of the unelected all powerful bureaucracy that is the three letter agencies.
    • by SplawnDarts (1405209) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:35PM (#46048261)

      While this opinion is in no way binding, it may still be valuable. The courts have not weighed in on the various NSA activities with any finality. One district judge has indicated it's probably constitutional. One has indicated it's not. Public disapproval can still help sway the outcome when this dispute makes its inevitable way to the supreme court.

  • by cdrudge (68377)

    Could this be the start of change to come?

    Betteridge's Law of Headlines says that if a headline ends with a question mark, it can be answered "no." Does this apply to questions asked in summaries too?

    In this case, I'm going to guess yes, the answer is no.

  • Three out of five? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by J'raxis (248192) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:27PM (#46048189) Homepage

    Three out of five PCLOB board members are in agreement: The NSA spy programs are illegal. ... Could this be the start of change to come?

    Indeed. Expect the government to replace one PCLOB member.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:30PM (#46048209) Journal

    From a higher level, metadata, who calls whom, and when, would have been used to round up the Founding Fathers. Had they still managed to be successful, they would have forbidden that to government without warrant.

    It's really that damned simple, people.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Somebody in the government ordered that each citizen will have to:

    After finishing a phone conversation it must submit a written statement to its 'supervisor' stating to whom he called, for how long and what was the topic of the conversation, such statement will store in a safe vault and the 'supervisor' promises to not to look at it.
    After sending an email to somebody (or for that matter any chat in electronic form) will also require to submit such statement along with the full content of the email / chat, a

  • That is the $6 trillion question.

    (yes, that's the cost)

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:55PM (#46048415)

    There are many who will despair that reports like this will get ignored. What I think we can learn from history is that big legal and social changes in the United States don't happen overnight. It takes a long time to build the political will to fix a broken system. We saw that with the civil rights movement, we're seeing it now (in my humble opinion) with marijuana legalization and same-sex marriage.

    Even though the agency that issued this report has no authority, it's one more source of media coverage, one more expert opinion saying the surveillance programs are un-American. What we need are years, not months, of frequent and critical media coverage. That is what change looks like.

    I know the NSA's abuses can't end soon enough. The democratic process makes wise decisions slowly and foolish decisions instantly. Keep the pressure on, and give it time.

  • by thewebsiteisdown (1397957) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:57PM (#46048439)
    Consider for a moment your standard, run of the mill credit report that is easily obtainable by just about anybody. It contains an actual chronological record of anything you do from a financial standpoint, but the metadata that is able to be gleaned from it tells a much more invasive story about you than just who you called and when. It tells me the kind of car you drive, the amount of money you make, the kind of neighborhood you live in, I know where you work, where your kids go to school. I can even make a pretty good estimate on if you are having marital problems. This data collection has been going on for decades, without your consent, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. You can't even own the data about yourself, and others are both allowed and encouraged to make money off said information, mostly be way of penalizing you if they don't like what it says. Where is the outrage? Where is the oversight? Is it because one dataset is owned by corporate pimps and the other is owned by the government? I personally don't give a shit if the NSA knows who I called. The furniture store down the street can spend $7 and find out all about my medical procedure from 2007, and absolutely anything else about my life they care to look into within about 30 seconds. We conceded privacy for the sake of convenience a long, long time ago.
    • by raymorris (2726007) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @03:58PM (#46049367)

      Only if you choose to ask the furniture store to give you furniture without you paying for it can they pull your credit. If you ask them to front you some furniture, they can see what happened to other people who loaned you money. My credit report is almost empty, it lists a car loan and that's about it. Nobody sees my report because I don't go around asking people to let me spend money I don't have.

      Contrast this with the government. They have thousands of records on me, every phone call I've ever made or received. All of my emails. There's no way to opt out. If I tried hard enough to get away from their prying, they have squadrons of heavily armed men to send after me.

      See the difference?

      • No I don't see the difference, its is one of placing personal value on specific instances of privacy. Your opinion that "I don't use credit so there is nothing to see" is no more valid than my "I don't talk about terrorist plots so I have nothing to hide" where phone calls or email are concerned. And I reject the assertion that its "Asking for free stuff". They check your credit to rent an apartment, and then report your new address when you move in. They check your credit during the hiring process, and we
        • > "I don't use credit so there is nothing to see" is no more valid than my
          > "I don't talk about terrorist plots so I have nothing to hide" where phone calls or email are concerned.

          It's entirely different. In the case of the NSA, there are thousands of records for every person. There IS data being stored about your daily activities. Someone might say that there isn't anything INTERESTING to see about them, but there most certainly is a LOT to see - all of their phone calls, for example.

          For the cred

          • For the credit reporting agency, there simply isn't any data there if you don't go around borrowing money.

            Not true.

            The credit data on me does not EXIST. It's literally nothing (beyond maybe a phone book listing). So you're comparing NOTHING, no data being collected, to a vast database of our daily activities. You're saying the NSA spying is equalivent to - literally - nothing.

            If I claimed "I don't use the phone or email" then I am re-framing your own argument. You are saying that one collection is BAD and one is OK based solely on the volume of information.(and since there is nothing of any value or volume, in your case, which is not at all true for the majority of people). You make an allowance for CR agencies because you (incorrectly) believe that its all about you asking for something from someone, or using their service. That same argument could be turned around if

      • I could almost say the same but at some point I wanted to by a house and no credit history meant I couldn't get a mortgage loan. Today I get offers almost every day in the mail for credit cards I could never afford to pay if I maxed them out. That is exactly what they want too, me to max out a credit card and pay the minimum payment until I've payed back the amount 4 or 5 times in interest.

        • > I wanted to by a house and no credit history meant I couldn't get a mortgage loan.

          If that's still an issue, or may be in the future, message me. I can give you the exact step-by-step plan I used for my mortgage. I even got to write my own mortgage documents, so it's assumable after it's 50% paid, I wrote the terms regarding late fees, etc.

          • I was referring to a couple decades ago after I got out of college and had that first good job when I said "No credit history". Much has changed since then.

    • Consider for a moment your standard, run of the mill credit report that is easily obtainable by just about anybody.

      The fact that some people sacrifice some of their privacy (Not everyone uses credit cards, believe it or not. I pay with cash as often as possible.) to corporations doesn't mean that they want additional information in the hands of the government. They are not hypocritical for being outraged.

      Where is the outrage? Where is the oversight?

      Maybe people do want oversight and regulations on both? That is entirely possible.

      I personally don't give a shit if the NSA knows who I called.

      Then you're naive and you're part of the problem. The government isn't--and never will be--made up of perfect angels. Hundreds of million

  • by mi (197448) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @02:57PM (#46048451) Homepage

    lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program.

    A thing like this ought to be legal or illegal regardless of whether it is useful or not... So, though I'm glad they've reached this conclusion, I'm hesitant to rejoice — if these are the standards to apply, we may have something horribly invasive coming in the future, which will survive legal scrutiny because it will be useful, even if otherwise illegal...

  • If you're waiting for congress or the president to act, don't hold your breath...unless you can hold it for a few years because anyone who wants to run for congress or the president has 2 options. They can be against surveillance and obamacare or they can lose. The public will not vote for someone who has a differing opinion. They're both surprisingly not party line issues anymore.
  • Surely this would mean that there is now grounds for someone (not sure who) to challenge the metadata collection operation in a court? Or sue? Or pursue happyness? *shrug*

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Thursday January 23, 2014 @03:23PM (#46048815)

    Yeah, you already know the response White House, Obama isn't agreeing with the finding. [foxnews.com]

    Back in 2005 then Senator Obama complained about the Patriot Act, which he's now defending.

    “This is legislation that puts our own Justice Department above the law.If someone wants to know why their own government has decided to go on a fishing expedition through every personal record or private document, through the library books that you read, through the phone calls that you made, the emails that you sent, this legislation gives people no rights to appeal the need for such a search in a court of law. No judge will hear your plea. No jury will hear your case. This is just plain wrong.Giving law enforcement the tools that they need to investigate suspicious activities is one thing. And it’s the right thing. But doing it without any real oversight seriously jeopardizes the rights of all Americans, and the ideals America stands for.”

    So by his own statements he's jeopardizing the rights and ideals of all Americans.

  • ...and now this?
    How in the world will our government keep us pious and safe now?
    • by Virtucon (127420)

      That's the distraction thingy. While everybody is either going after Same Sex Marriage the rest of the government can continue to overspend and spy on us. Continue about your business as usual, nothing to see here.

  • Is this a new committee? Or did they just not know about this stuff until Snowden told them?

    Isn't that evidence enough that there's a serious problem?

  • 3 guys decided that an organization established by Congress, performing duties as directed by the executive branch and monitored by the judicial branch was doing something illegal? That's right up there with me and my drinking buddies thinking that toll roads should be illegal.
  • I browsed at 4+ comments, and didn't see any responses like this:
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Seems pretty simple?

    I wonder when General Alexander will be facing charges?
  • Trust a lawyer's self importance to think that his job is not a make-work career and that the president and congress and the people who tell them what to do actually give a fuck about the law and what's illegal or not.

"The most important thing in a man is not what he knows, but what he is." -- Narciso Yepes

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