Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D – VT) long-awaited USA Freedom Act 2014 was introduced today, and would halt all bulk data collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, an effort to tame the soaring power of the NSA to surveil ordinary Americans.
It’s a step in the right direction, contrasted to the Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D – CA) alternative that actually broadens surveillance powers. That doesn’t mean its a great, or even good bill, however.
A joint statement by Sens. Ron Wyden (D – OR) and Mark Udall (D – CO) expressed considerable concern that the Leahy bill doesn’t go nearly far enough, noting that the “backdoor” loophole remains totally untouched.
The NSA has been using its power to conduct warrantless surveillance of foreigners to also conduct surveillance on Americans who have any communication with them, dramatically broadening their power without any legal prevention.
Tech giants praised the Leahy bill as a chance to “restore trust in the Internet,” though whether or not it will actually do that very much remains to be seen, with the NSA determined to find and exploit what loopholes they can.