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Government United States

New Bill Would Repeal Patriot Act 188

schwit1 points out a new piece of bipartisan legislation that aims to repeal the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act, which the NSA has used to justify broad domestic surveillance. House Representatives Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) introduced the bill yesterday, calling it the Surveillance State Repeal Act (PDF). Pocan said, "This isn't just tinkering around the edges. This is a meaningful overhaul of the system, getting rid of essentially all parameters of the Patriot Act." The bill also attempts to dramatically strengthen whistleblower protections, so situations like Edward Snowden's and Thomas Drake's don't happen in the future. This legislation is not expected to get the support of Congressional leaders, but supporters hope it will at least inspire some debate about several provisions of the Patriot Act coming up for renewal in June.
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New Bill Would Repeal Patriot Act

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @09:02AM (#49334905)

    This will never pass. You can't repeal the PATRIOT Act... That would be unpatriotic. The FISA Amendments Act won't be repealed either. This is merely for show and we all know it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    14 years late if you ask me.

  • by sasparillascott ( 1267058 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @09:15AM (#49334983)
    If you want the surveillance state rolled back, do what you can to support this - take a couple of minutes and e-mail your U.S. House Representative:

    http://www.house.gov/represent... [house.gov]

    The more public support it appears this gains, the more likely it is that we can get some push back on our road to total surveillance. Much better than just saying it's got no chance and not doing anything.
    • by PrimaryConsult ( 1546585 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @09:26AM (#49335061)

      Seriously, if there was ever a time the slashdot effect was needed, it's now.

      Apathy towards the workings of our government are what allowed the Patriot Act to last this long, I hope that same apathy can be counted on to keep the "whatever to keep us safe!" crowd from fighting its repeal.

      • While I completely agree, I'm not sure the Slashdot Effect has existed for nigh a decade now.

    • Except for the fact that many of these representatives represent rural communities, where they need to travel miles to even see a local town government official, or police man. This stuff has limited impact on their lives. While the City Folk who see a Homeland security truck parked outside their home feel more threatened.
      They rural folk are more likely to see the PA as something that affects other people.

    • by Holi ( 250190 )
      Instantly contacted all of mine when I saw this.
    • There was an article a few years ago about how Congressmen judged popular support. I don't know how true it is now, but back then most of them got under ten letters for any given bill. Anything that got 100 was judged to be really important to their constituents. Basically, if everyone on Slashdot who is a registered voter in the USA actually bothered contacting their representatives (a form letter doesn't count, those are ignored, but a couple of short paragraphs will be counted as a separate mail) then
    • Or perhaps this is just a PR stunt to get you to be more lax about encryption. The government is not happy with itself for having created the 'encrypt everything' movement. They would like you to lower your guard.
        The plan should be two fold.
          1) Support this bill
          2) Encrypt everything.

    • by mikehilly ( 653401 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @11:43AM (#49336023)
      Here is the text of the email I used - please write your representative today!

      I strongly urge you to support the Surveillance State Repeal Act that is being proposed by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.). We need smarter protections in place on both sides of this issue and this Act is a step in the right direction. Protecting our country is important, but we can't sacrifice our freedom to achieve our goals. Please take a stand for the freedom our nation was founded on and work with other representatives to achieve a safe and free nation we can all be proud to call home.

    • by boskone ( 234014 )

      Done, both my congressperson and BOTH of my senators.

      In your message, your asking your congressperson to support the bill. You're asking your senators to introduce similar legislation in the senate.

      I'm encouraged that this his a sponsor from each side the aisle.

      Now write respectful emails (or better, CALL) and ask your rep to support and your senator to introduce similar legislation.

    • Agreed. Even if you're cynical about the odds of defeating it being slim, remember that your odds are guaranteed to be zero if you do nothing, and you never quite know what a less than zero value might count for. A few minutes to throw your two cents in shouldn't be too much to spare.

  • That's the best proposal for law that I've seen in many years. After many years, we see some excellent leaders, rather than weak people who pretend to be leading.
  • Let them know (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bob the Super Hamste ( 1152367 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @09:29AM (#49335075) Homepage
    Let your congress critter know you want them to support this bill. If you don't know who is yours you can find them here [house.gov] and from their page send them an e-mail or get the number to call their DC or local office. I have already sent an e-mail to my worthless war hawk nuclear football carrying congress critter but I suspect that it will fall on deaf ears. I also contacted my senators but don't expect much from either of them as one avoids controversy like the plague and the other has been hanging low for a while.
    • Re:Let them know (Score:4, Insightful)

      by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @10:22AM (#49335427) Journal

      Emails are pretty useless, if you actually go through the effort to compose a real letter and send it through the mail with a stamp that costs real-world money, now that gets some attention! Also Congress-Critter's brains are hard-wired for reciprocity so be sure to inform them of your past support and that their support on this matter will make future support of them easier for you.

    • Re:Let them know (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @10:28AM (#49335481)

      Let your congress critter know you want them to support this bill. If you don't know who is yours you can find them here [house.gov] and from their page send them an e-mail or get the number to call their DC or local office. I have already sent an e-mail to my worthless war hawk nuclear football carrying congress critter but I suspect that it will fall on deaf ears. I also contacted my senators but don't expect much from either of them as one avoids controversy like the plague and the other has been hanging low for a while.

      And when you do (not if you do, because you are going to contact your representatives on this), frame your concerns accordingly. Framing means to give your rep a reason to support the bill that agrees with his or her beliefs, and that they can justify to their lobbyists.

      If your rep leans left on social issues or military issues, remind them about Hoover's FBI and the Church Commission during the Vietnam era. If your rep has a "D" behind his name, remind them of Nixon and the original campaign of dirty tricks whereby his advisors attempted to eavesdrop on his opponents. If your rep is gay, remind them of the days when being outed was a career-ender.

      If your rep has an "R" behind their name or is hawkish on national security, remind them that every backdoor we leave open (or demand be built in!) for the use of our spies is a backdoor that can be exploited by Chinese and Russian spies. If your rep is in any tech-heavy are regardless of "D" or "R", and/or if they lean right on business issues, remind them of the impact on the business community, such as Cisco's drop in sales that has been partially attributed to the reluctance of foreign customers to purchase from US vendors. America's economy cannot grow unless American companies can sell American products to the world. Americans can't get jobs unless the world is willing to purchase American hardware, software, and host its data on American services.

      There are many good reasons to repeal the USAPATRIOT Act. Some are about civil rights and not repeating the mistakes of the past. Some are about preserving our freedoms for the future. Some are about business competitiveness. Some are about making us more secure from foreign spies. Frame your concerns in a manner that your representative won't dismiss out of hand.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @09:45AM (#49335137) Homepage
    the Patriot act is affected through the Homeland Security Act, which in turn uses wings of the FBI and CIA to implement various measures but most importantly it uses the Department of Homeland Security. with a quarter of a million people employed and a sixty billion dollar budget, many southern senators and politicians would likely find the bill, or any bill that touches DHS for that matter, toxic. customs and border protection agents, largely composed of veterans who would otherwise find themselves unemployed, make up the bulk of nearly 60,000 employed by the agency. Expect Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico senators to turn a blind eye to this legislation as no one wants to face an election with the fact they voted to axe these jobs, however pointless and destructive.

    expect the administration --any administration for that matter-- to object to strengthening whistleblower protection. The laundry list of whistleblowers in federal government whos actions have directly led to their chronic unemployment and ostracization from society is evidence enough that we as a society care more about the idea of american patriotism than the actual functional implementation and repercussions of it.
    • the Patriot act is affected through the Homeland Security Act, which in turn uses wings of the FBI and CIA to implement various measures but most importantly it uses the Department of Homeland Security. with a quarter of a million people employed and a sixty billion dollar budget, many southern senators and politicians would likely find the bill, or any bill that touches DHS for that matter, toxic. customs and border protection agents, largely composed of veterans who would otherwise find themselves unemployed, make up the bulk of nearly 60,000 employed by the agency. Expect Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico senators to turn a blind eye to this legislation as no one wants to face an election with the fact they voted to axe these jobs, however pointless and destructive.

      expect the administration --any administration for that matter-- to object to strengthening whistleblower protection. The laundry list of whistleblowers in federal government whos actions have directly led to their chronic unemployment and ostracization from society is evidence enough that we as a society care more about the idea of american patriotism than the actual functional implementation and repercussions of it.

      The jobs don't particularly need to be lost in order to restore the constitutional rights that have been infringed upon. (not saying I like it - just sayin')

      I'd rather have the TSA and have my rights than have the TSA and not have my rights.

    • by hondo77 ( 324058 )

      customs and border protection agents, largely composed of veterans who would otherwise find themselves unemployed, make up the bulk of nearly 60,000 employed by the agency.

      We had those before DHS and the Patriot Act. They'll be just fine.

  • Now this is the best piece of news I've heard all day long. This is what our elected officials are supposed to be doing for us - protecting our rights and freedoms from encroachment by the executive branch.
  • All it would take (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sir_Eptishous ( 873977 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @10:31AM (#49335509) Homepage
    is one not-so-catastrophic terrorist event to happen and all this talk about oversight, rights, freedom, privacy and The Constitution will go right out the fucking window and everyone knows it.
    One Event

    Think of the children. Hell, think of the shareholders...
    • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @10:49AM (#49335637) Homepage

      The terrorist attack doesn't even need to happen. They just need to "find" a terrorist cell with explosives, plans, etc. all ready to go. Then sow a little fear that others might be out there and their funding/powers will not only be unchallenged, but increased and challenging their authority will be political poison for another decade

  • irrelevant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Masked Coward ( 3773883 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @10:36AM (#49335543)

    Whether or not the Patriot Act is repealed, things won't change where it really matters. Just as politically correct speech codes only serve to drive non-PC speech further underground and yield fetish groups that rally around things like racial purity, a total "victory" in Congress to repeal PATRIOT will just drive the secret courts into more secretive practices.

    Because the US government is no longer run by elected officials. I don't mean to sound conspiratorial, it's just that representatives come and go while an army of bureaucrats are led by people with decades-long careers. Those people are not elected, nor are they responsive to political winds. As far as Congress using the power of the purse, the feds have a printing press and they aren't afraid to use it.

  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @10:38AM (#49335555)

    I have a lot of Internet facing applications and it's becoming more and more apparent that certain nations, China for one, are constantly scanning or trying to break into systems. We've been leveraging mod_geoip/geoip2 etc. for awhile but that's at my point of presence. When are we going to start filtering IP addresses or subnets from nations where this kind of activity is permitted? It's a matter of national security but I don't see much in the way that the Patriot act or any act is really protecting intellectual property and websites from these kinds of coordinated efforts not just spying on citizens? I would much rather see a substantial amount of NSA resources focused on that problem rather than worrying of about who I send e-mails to.

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @10:57AM (#49335699)
    I have to admit to being surprised at how many posts suggest that contacting your Congresscritter will actually work. Those days are long gone for several reasons.
    1) The Supreme Court ruling that basically allows virtually limitless campaign contributions means that reps and senators no longer have to depend on the public for financing, meaning that they can do whatever they want and if Big Money likes it, they'll get re-election money. I don't see this as anything Big Money cares about.
    2) There's a possibility that the majority of Americans may actually be in favor of the Patriot Act. I know that it's common for American Slashdotters to believer that the entire nation agrees with them politically, but I believe that in fact the majority of Americans are not troubled at all by the things that drive American Slashdotters mad.
    3) Voters have proven for decades that they don't pay attention to issues at all, they have short memories, and they merely vote on party lines every time. Incumbents have little incentive to listen to the voters when they can literally do anything short of breaking the law and handily get re-elected. And polls have laughingly shown that year after year the US electorate wants to "throw everybody out, except my representative/senator" and they fail to grasp that when the entire country insists that their rep/senator isn't the problem but yours is, nothing will ever change.
  • by Parker Lewis ( 999165 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @11:13AM (#49335803)
    "Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one."
  • The PATRIOT act is not a law at all, it is an act of usurpation. Statutes passed by the congress can't trump the constitution, and the PATRIOT act obviously violates the fourth and fifth amendments.

    While I'm happy that Rep. Massie is trying to do the things he promised when I supported his campaign, the only solution to the FBI/CIA/NSA fiasco is to abolish all three agencies, prosecute every person involved with the crimes that Snowden made us aware of, and prohibit all the rest of them from ever being empl

  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @12:09PM (#49336279)

    The DHS has quietly become the KGB, with all that this implies.

    There's a reason that the current Russian dictator comes directly from the old KGB. There's a reason that one of our recent former presidents came directly from the CIA.

    For this reason, I'll make a big bet, that no matter what kind of election carnival is held, Jeb Bush gets elected as the next president. As the former CIA director's son, he's on their team. He's already vetted. No candidate, at this point, has a chance of winning unless they're security service friendly.

  • by eepok ( 545733 ) on Wednesday March 25, 2015 @12:10PM (#49336289) Homepage

    Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing the Required Tools for Intercepting and Obstructing Terrorism.

    It's a hi' falootin' acronym, so it need to be capitalized. (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ56/pdf/PLAW-107publ56.pdf)

  • If ever there was a time for the Americans here to write to their congressman and ask that they support a particular bill, this is the time. I may not be American or know a whole lot about American politics but even I know that this is probably one of the most important bills proposed in Congress in at least a decade.

  • ...it did pass both houses, Obama would of course veto it. He has been more overzealous in his use of the surveillance apparatus than Dubya was.

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