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Government Privacy The Almighty Buck

US House of Representatives Votes To Cut Funding To NSA 164

Posted by Soulskill
from the congress-threatening-to-actually-do-something dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. House of Representatives voted late Thursday night, 293 to 123, to approve an amendment to the NSA's appropriations bill that cuts all funding for warrantless surveillance and for programs that force companies to create backdoors in their products. The success of this vote in the House is attributed to the fact that the amendment did not have to go through the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees and also to the increasingly apparent unpopularity of NSA activities among voters. Although privacy advocates laud the vote, there are those who note that the amendment specifically applies to the NSA and CIA while remaining silent on other agencies such as the FBI. The appropriations bill in its entirety will now proceed to the Senate for approval."
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US House of Representatives Votes To Cut Funding To NSA

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  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Friday June 20, 2014 @09:09AM (#47280629)
    I'm keenly aware this statement by the US House can be circumvented in some fashion. These folks they're dealing with are secret agencies.

    At the very least the representatives still have to pay me some lip service. Hell, some of them may have retained the ability to care.

    Either way, it's a small victory for the Republic.

  • Moving money (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dishwasha (125561) on Friday June 20, 2014 @09:14AM (#47280657)

    I wholeheartedly support this initiative of shifting money from a known three letter entity to a different unknown three letter entity that will now conduct our surveillance state in complete secret.

  • Re:Moving money (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 20, 2014 @09:41AM (#47280849)

    No other three letter agency has the capability. CIA, FBI, and DIA don't have budgets even remotely close to the NSA. The US moved to SIGINT back in the late 90s and put most of the resources there. Hoever, I am not sure how much defunding will help. The infrastructure is already build and operating...this will just make the NSA let go a few contractors and continue operating. They need to pass a bill that dismantles the Patriot Act.

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday June 20, 2014 @09:42AM (#47280861)

    its not a small victory. its the APPEARANCE of one, which is worse, because it will wrongfully quiet down a lot of complainers. which is all its intended to do.

    there is 0.000000% chance that we will get our freedoms back, at least peacefully in this v1.0 government style we have created over the centuries. 1.0 worked fine when tech was stone knives and bearskins. now, 1.0 is outdated (and neutered!) and so, whatever our system comes up with, its a lie and its bullshit.

    why, people, do you continue to give hope where its not deserved or earned?

  • by ZenMonk (1967080) on Friday June 20, 2014 @09:57AM (#47280969)

    Bah. Congress can prohibit ACTIONS until they're blue in the face, but those prohibitions rely on an executive branch that is willing to enforce them. This executive in particular has a history of declining to enforce laws that it doesn't like. (Yes, Bush did it too with his "signing statements". Two wrongs don't make a right.)

    The true power of Congress is the power of the purse. If they don't want the executive doing something, the surest way to prevent it is to deny them the money to do it. This amendment is about the strongest form of prohibition they can make, short of cutting funding for NSA entirely (which would be pretty stupid).

    Agreed it doesn't prevent them from doing it anyway with money from other sources, but then that money can't be used for whatever they were planning to do with it before. At least Congress is trying to do something about it.

  • Re:Next! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DickBreath (207180) on Friday June 20, 2014 @09:58AM (#47280979) Homepage
    Funny? Why oh why wasn't your post moded Insightful?

    A few decades ago the very existence of NSA was a secret. The CIA had a bad rep.

    Now the NSA has a bad rep. So it's time to wind down the importance of NSA and introduce a new sooper dooper sekrit spy agency that can do dirty tricks in the dark without oversight, and especially without pesky annoyances like laws and the constitution. Meanwhile the NSA and CIA can both get all the public bad press, criticism, and 'oversight' of pointy-haired congresscritters.
  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Friday June 20, 2014 @10:00AM (#47280991) Journal
    I'd give it an Overratted if had a point to spare.

    The Vietnam war didn't end, congress stopped funding it. Putting money into a slush fund doesn't suddenly make it legal to spend it on the defunded activity, just ask the Iran-contra guys. As has already been said the obvious loophole is that it names particular agencies, why coat the obvious with conspiratorial nonsense?
  • Re:Hm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DickBreath (207180) on Friday June 20, 2014 @10:02AM (#47281009) Homepage
    The NSA would need a logo and branding for such a large advertising and PR campaign as you suggest.

    I know! How about Big Brother is Watching You! And the face should, of course, have a smile and a pleasant, re-assuring image.
  • by cdrudge (68377) on Friday June 20, 2014 @10:13AM (#47281099) Homepage

    But it's soooo much easier to just not fund it currently. It shows that they demand accountability and to stop spying on Americans...this week. It holds open the possibility to fund it later by slipping it in as part of some larger budget bill. You know, when it's politically more advantageous to "stop terrorism", "save American lives", or "think of the children".

    If they make it illegal now, they'd have to go through the hassle of making it legal later, then still have to fund it through another bill.

  • by lorenlal (164133) on Friday June 20, 2014 @10:33AM (#47281303)

    If they really wanted to shut it down effectively, they'd expire the PATRIOT act. It's a dog and pony vote because it's not actually making the activity illegal.

  • Wrong bill. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Karmashock (2415832) on Friday June 20, 2014 @10:38AM (#47281363)

    They should made it illegal for companies to be gagged from making public comment when served with such warrants. They're a violation of the first amendment at the very least.

    Freedom of speech. You silence me and make it illegal to even say I was silenced... how is that not a violation?

  • by N1AK (864906) on Friday June 20, 2014 @10:44AM (#47281417) Homepage
    When the law said they couldn't do it in the first place and they did it, what makes you think asking them not to spend money on it would stop them ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 20, 2014 @10:45AM (#47281429)

    Since when did the Law matter to this Administration?

  • Black Swan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aqualung812 (959532) on Friday June 20, 2014 @02:01PM (#47283399)

    There WILL be another 9/11. This stuff happens, and it CAN NOT be 100% avoided.

    You can do some things that could help (hint: the issue with 9/11 wasn't a lack of info, but a lack of communication. We still have this problem regardless what the NSA does), but you can't stop it from ever happening.

    So, no matter what things you do to prevent 9/11, something like it will happen again. The Boston Marathon bombings, while much less severe, show that even with the super surveillance, people dedicated to cause death can do it, and always will be able to.

    What makes for more interesting discussion is if there are ways of preventing the root causes for wanting to cause death. Perhaps that can be more effective than ignoring what the cause is & trying to stop the effect?

  • Re:Black Swan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gweihir (88907) on Friday June 20, 2014 @04:10PM (#47284457)

    There WILL be another 9/11. This stuff happens, and it CAN NOT be 100% avoided.

    It is also not a problem, unless you panic and cower in fear every time it happens. Or start to establish a totalitarian police and surveillance state. The right reaction is to just move on and show the attackers that they are pathetic. That is how you are resilient and strong as a country.

    People die every day and it sucks, but terrorism is way down on the list of unnatural causes.

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