The Customer Revolution Continues....U.S. Patriot Act Expires
Thanks to courageous stands taken by Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, and to an outpouring of calls and emails from American voters (thank you!), the three portions of the US Patriot Act that authorized the mass collection and data mining of the phone records of US citizens expired on June 1st, 2015.
"Historic Victory for the Rights of Every Citizen"
In a video interview with The Guardian and then in an Op Ed column in the Sunday New York Times, Edward Snowden commented on the victory:
"Privately, there were moments when I worried that we might have put our privileged lives at risk for nothing — that the public would react with indifference, or practiced cynicism, to the revelations.
Never have I been so grateful to have been so wrong.
Two years on, the difference is profound. In a single month, the N.S.A.’s invasive call-tracking program was declared unlawful by the courts and disowned by Congress. After a White House-appointed oversight board investigation found that this program had not stopped a single terrorist attack, even the president who once defended its propriety and criticized its disclosure has now ordered it terminated.
This is the power of an informed public.
Ending the mass surveillance of private phone calls under the Patriot Act is a historic victory for the rights of every citizen, but it is only the latest product of a change in global awareness. Since 2013, institutions across Europe have ruled similar laws and operations illegal and imposed new restrictions on future activities.
The United Nations declared mass surveillance an unambiguous violation of human rights. In Latin America, the efforts of citizens in Brazil led to the Marco Civil, an Internet Bill of Rights. Recognizing the critical role of informed citizens in correcting the excesses of government, the Council of Europe called for new laws to protect whistle-blowers."
Edward Snowden: "Our Right to Privacy Remains Under Threat"
In the same NYT Op Ed piece, Snowden goes on to say:
"Though we have come a long way, the right to privacy — the foundation of the freedoms enshrined in the United States Bill of Rights — remains under threat. Some of the world’s most popular online services have been enlisted as partners in the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs, and technology companies are being pressured by governments around the world to work against their customers rather than for them. Billions of cellphone location records are still being intercepted without regard for the guilt or innocence of those affected. We have learned that our government intentionally weakens the fundamental security of the Internet with “back doors” that transform private lives into open books. Metadata revealing the personal associations and interests of ordinary Internet users is still being intercepted and monitored on a scale unprecedented in history: As you read this online, the United States government makes a note."
Edward Snowden, NYT, June 7, 2015
USA Freedom Act Replaces the Patriot Act
Not surprisingly, one day after three major provisions of the Patriot Act expired on June 2nd, Congress passed replacement legislation--the USA Freedom Act.
The US Senate passed the USA Freedom Act with a vote of 67 to 32. President Obama signed it into law within a few hours.
What did US citizens gain? And where does the new law fall short in protecting citizens' rights against unlawful search and seizure (the 4th amendment of our constitution)?