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Government Privacy The Almighty Buck

US House of Representatives Votes To Cut Funding To NSA 164

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 EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <(gterich) (at) (> on Friday June 20, 2014 @09:01AM (#47280579) Journal

    From the news:

    "he amendment would block the NSA from using any of its funding from this Defense Appropriations Bill to conduct such warrantless searches."

    It only covers THIS appropriations bill. They'll just sneak funding into another one to make it up.

    You have to pay careful attention to the language these people use.

    " In addition, the amendment would prohibit the NSA from using its budget to mandate or request that private companies and organizations add backdoors to the encryption standards that are meant to keep you safe on the web."

    So, money that is NOT budgeted, as in part of planned spending, as in slush fund money, is fair game.

    Any time an amendment talks about what they cannot use particular money for, as opposed to simply prohibiting the action, it will be full of loopholes.

    When there is an amendment that prohibits the ACTION, then we'll have something to be happy about. Nothing in this amendment prohibits the spying.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 20, 2014 @10:21AM (#47281155)

    Technically, the Vietnam War didn't START.

    The table below lists the five wars in which the United States has formally declared war against eleven foreign nations.
    War of 1812
    Mexican-American War
    Spanish-American War
    World War I
    World War II

    After WWII presidents just stopped asking congress to declare war for them and just 'sent troops'.

  • Re:yes, dutch nazis (Score:4, Informative)

    by dnavid ( 2842431 ) on Friday June 20, 2014 @05:12PM (#47284881)

    I *want* the authorities, with proper warrant, to be able to access any digital/analog communication

    if you were the victim you'd expect it

    Emphasis mine. That's really the key, isn't it...proper warrant? Having a proper warrant also means they have to show probable cause. This law is about defunding warrantless wiretapping. But, like was pointed out, it doesn't name the FBI. Did you know that the FBI is officially no longer a law enforcement agency, but is instead now an anti-terror agency? This pretty much means that the FBI can use it as an excuse to be the ones doing domestic warrantless wiretapping. However, even though this law may just shuffle things around (even if it miraculously passes the senate), I see it as a Very Good Thing because it's a step in the right direction: Pushing back against blatant constitutional violations.

    Actually, the amendment doesn't defund warrantless wiretapping directly, at least as I read it. What it specifically states is "none of the funds made available by this Act may be used by an officer or employee of the United States to query a collection of foreign intelligence information acquired under section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1881a) using a United States person identifier."

    My interpretation of that amendment is that nothing prohibits the NSA or the CIA from collecting that data, but it disallows them from directly requesting any information from that data tied directly to a US citizen. More specifically, it says that no one funded by that appropriations bill can do that. Since the data is collected by the NSA and its funding comes from that bill, it legally bars them from performing any similar query for any other agency as well.

    There are still a lot of loopholes that could be used to try to evade this amendment, assuming it passes, but it does seem to indicate that outside of the House committees that are directly involved with intelligence oversight, there is strong political will in both Democratic and Republican circles to curtail this type of activity. That's a necessary first step to making any long term changes. But it is only a first step.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle