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New effort launched to curb NSA snooping

EFF version of NSA logo

Civil liberties advocates created their own version of the NSA logo to make their point. Image courtesy Electronic Frontier Foundation.

‘We have now seen that secret, domestic surveillance programs at the National Security Agency have crossed the line’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Along with colleagues from Wisconsin and Oregon, Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is leading a new effort to curb overly eager spy agencies from invading the privacy and abusing the civil liberties of people who have absolutely no connection with terrorism.

Udall and U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)  introduced the Freedoms and Privacy Act of 2013, legislation that strengthens transparency, oversight and accountability on National Security Agency domestic surveillance.

“Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, we learned about the importance of sharing information about international terrorism between intelligence agencies and law enforcement,” Udall said. “But we need to ensure that any personal information collected on innocent Americans with no connection to terrorism or espionage is shared appropriately with law enforcement entities. We need strong, appropriate privacy protections,” he said. Continue reading

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Senate timidly moves to curb NSA snooping

Sen. Mark Udall.

Sen. Mark Udall.

Sen. Mark Udall votes against measure, says more far-reaching reform is needed

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A bill that would take baby steps toward curbing the excessive spying by U.S. intelligence agencies passed through a Senate committee this week, but the measure doesn’t go far enough, according to Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who has proposed legislation that would would rein in the dragnet collection of phone records, provide safeguards for warrantless wiretapping under the FISA Amendments Act, and create a constitutional advocate to protect privacy rights in cases before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Udall voted against the bill, saying that Americans need more protection from snooping government agencies.

“The NSA’s ongoing, invasive surveillance of Americans’ private information does not respect our constitutional values and needs fundamental reform – not incidental change,” Udall said. “Unfortunately, the bill passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee does not go far enough to address the NSA’s overreaching domestic surveillance programs. ” Continue reading

Court acknowledges that government made ‘substantial misrepresentations’ of surveillance programs

Released FISA Court document raises Fourth Amendment issues

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A heavily redacted FISA Court ruling from 2011 confirms that U.S. spy agencies have been violating the privacy rights of American citizens.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Far from just passively collecting long lists of telephone numbers, U.S. spy agencies actively worked to intercept communications by tapping into fiber-optic cables, going well beyond the bounds of programs authorized by a secret intelligence court.

The revelations came this week, as intelligence officials released a previously classified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Activities court ruling confirming what had already been leaked via other sources — that the government is spying on Americans with no connection to terrorism. The document shows that the NSA acquires more than 250 million internet communications each year. Continue reading

Latest NSA revelations just ‘the tip of the iceberg’

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The NSA broke the law thousands of times as it spied on Americans and foreigners during the past year.

Senators say Americans deserve more transparency

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — While Obama administration officials have acknowledged that the National Security Agency may have made some mistakes in the course of its widespread and invasive surveillance, new documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden show that the agency overstepped its bounds, and broke the law, thousands of times just in the past year.

The Washington Post reported on the revelations of an internal NSA audit based on documents provided by Snowden. The NSA violations were widely reported in the press this week and drew a sharp response from a pair of U.S. Senators who have been watch-dogging the intelligence agency.

Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden, who serve on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the latest revelations are still just the tip of the iceberg. Continue reading

Obama addresses domestic spying concerns

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President Barack Obama.

President pledges more transparency and reform of Patriot Act

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — President Obama tackled the domestic spying controversy head-on during an Aug. 9 press conference, saying he will push for increased transparency and reforms in U.S. intelligence programs.

Obama spelled out four specific steps aimed at addressing issues raised by critics in Congress and at rebuilding public confidence in the intelligence community.

Obama said he wants to reform the PATRIOT Act and push U.S. spy agencies to declassify more information about data-gathering programs.

He said the White House will also take input from outside groups in a review of intelligence and communications technologies. Continue reading

Domestic spying: Lawmakers say NSA is violating the rules for collection and handling of bulk telephone data

Leaked information on NSA surveillance is only the tip of the iceberg. Domestic intelligence gathering operations are much more pervasive than most Americans realize, several U.S. senators say.

Leaked information on NSA surveillance is only the tip of the iceberg. Domestic intelligence gathering operations are much more pervasive than most Americans realize, several U.S. senators say.

Surveillance laws and practices need major overhaul to protect privacy and civil liberties

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — U.S. spy chief James Clapper fell short of showing how the NSA’s intrusive data collection program has any unique value to the country’s intelligence efforts, a pair of U.S. senators said this week.

In a statement released after receiving a response from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to a June 27, 2013 letter sent along with 24 fellow  lawmakers, Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said Clapper’s response didn’t provide enough information.

“This response is appreciated, but the intelligence community still has left many of the questions most important to the American people unanswered. Given the implications for the privacy of the millions of law-abiding Americans, intelligence leaders were specifically asked to demonstrate the unique value of the bulk phone records collection program. They did not,” the senators wrote. Continue reading

House effort to curb NSA snooping fails on close vote

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U.S. Rep. Jared Polis helped lead a charge against intrusive snooping by the NSA.

There’s rowing political momentum to curtail data gathering by spy agencies

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A bipartisan push to limit sweeping data collection by the National Security Agency narrowly missed approval in the House this week. The close vote shows that Congress is moving closer to exercising more oversight and to protecting the civil liberties and privacy of millions of American citizens.

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) co-sponsored the amendment to a defense spending bill. The measure (H.R. 2397) would have limited the National Security Agency’s ability to collect phone data to people who are subject of an NSA investigation. The amendment failed on a vote of 205 to 217. Continue reading

Are intel chiefs are exaggerating effectiveness of spy programs?

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It turns out the spy agencies are collecting all sorts of bulk data, including emails.

Spy chiefs need to be held accountable for their claims, Sens. Wyden and Udall say

By Summit County Voice

FRISCO — U.S. Intelligence officials have overstated the effectiveness of their bulk data collection in testimony to Congress, Sen. Mark Udall said this week, warning that policy makers shouldn’t accept all the statements made by spy agencies at face value.

In a joint statement on the recent disclosure by intelligence officials that the NSA operated a bulk email records collection program under the authority of the Patriot Act until 2011, Udall (D-Colo.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said intelligence agencies’ assessments of the usefulness of particular collection programs — even significant ones — are not always accurate.

“Intelligence officials have noted that the bulk email records program was discussed with both Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,” Wyden and Udall said. “In our judgment it is also important to note that intelligence agencies made statements to both Congress and the Court that significantly exaggerated this program’s effectiveness. This experience has also led us to be skeptical of claims about the value of the bulk phone records collection program in particular,” the lawmakers said. Continue reading

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