Friday, October 11, 2013

Ending the panopticon?

US lawmakers have had enough of the NSA's domestic spying:

The conservative Republican who co-authored America's Patriot Act is preparing to unveil bipartisan legislation that would dramatically curtail the domestic surveillance powers it gives to intelligence agencies.

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who worked with president George W Bush to give more power to US intelligence agencies after the September 11 terrorist attacks, said the intelligence community had misused those powers by collecting telephone records on all Americans, and claimed it was time "to put their metadata program out of business".


It seeks to limit the collection of phone records to known terrorist suspects; to end "secret laws" by making courts disclose surveillance policies; to create a special court advocate to represent privacy interests; and to allow companies to disclose how many requests for users' information they receive from the USA. The bill also tightens up language governing overseas surveillance to remove a loophole which it has been abused to target internet and email activities of Americans.

This is good news, and I hope it passes. At the same time its worth noting that the bill does absolutely nothing to protect us. US lawmakers regard the rest of the world as fair game for their spies, and privacy as something to be enjoyed only by Americans. There's also the distinct possibility that if Congress shuts down US domestic spying, the NSA will just outsource it to one of the other Five Eyes, and keep right on spying using laundered data.