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

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

Obama addresses domestic spying concerns


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

Senators seek more transparency on NSA spying

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) continues to press for more transparency on government data collection and other secret intelligence programs.

Letter to intel chief seeks details on bulk data gathering

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The buik collection of data by the U.S. intelligence apparatus could enable the government to thwart laws designed to protect the privacy of medical and financial records. The recently revealed intelligence activity could have a significant impact on Americans’ privacy and civil liberties, according to a bipartisan group of 25 United States senators.

The lawmakers, including Colorado Democrat Mark Udall, last week sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, asking him to publicly provide information about the duration and scope of the bulk phone-records collection program and provide examples of its effectiveness in providing unique intelligence, if such examples exist.

The senators said reliance on secret law to conduct domestic surveillance activities raises serious civil liberty concerns and all but prevents the public from engaging in an informed national security and civil liberty debate. Continue reading

Congress moves to limit NSA data collection


The more spy agencies say they’re not listening to phone calls, the more we know they probably are.

Proposed bill would require some transparency

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Following a lively congressional hearing on the far-reaching surveillance and data-gathering of the U.S. intelligence apparatus, House lawmakers launched a bipartisan push to reign in the out-of-control spy agencies.

The proposed legislation  would restrict the federal government’s ability under the Patriot Act to collect information on Americans who are not connected to an ongoing investigation. The bill also requires that secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court to share its opinions with Congress and to provide summaries to the American public.

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) joined Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Chairman of the House Liberty Caucus, and Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee, today to announce the introduction of H.R. 2399, the Limiting Internet and Blanket Electronic Review of Telecommunications and Email Act (LIBERT-E Act). Continue reading

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall presses for Patriot Act reform

Sen. Mark Udall.

Colorado lawmaker quizzes intelligence agency leaders on civil liberties and U.S. torture policy during joint committee hearing

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Invoking a famous Benjamin Franklin  quote on liberty and security, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) this week called on the Obama administration to finalize membership of a watchdog group formed to guard against over-zealous intrusion into the privacy of citizens in the name of the war on terrorism.

Udall’s comments came during a joint hearing of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees about the lessons of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and follows his earlier calls for more transparency about how intelligence officials interpret anti-terrorism laws including the Patriot Act.

The Senate has failed to confirm two key appointments to the independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a delay that has drawn criticism from the co-chairs of the 9/11 commission. Last year, President nominated two members for the five-member board, but they have not yet been confirmed by the Senate, and one additional member needs to be nominated and confirmed for a quorum. The ACLU’s Patriot Act page is online here. Continue reading


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