President Barack Obama is in a hurry to appear responsive and ready to act in light of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’s impressive speech before an audience of liberals at Berkeley.
According to the legislative proposal that President Obama publicly endorsed Tuesday before a foreign audience at the Nuclear Security Summit, the systematic collection of users’ data would no longer remain as a responsibility of the National Security Agency. If the proposed legislation were to be enacted, phone companies would retain all the data.
This move would take the focus from the NSA as the main collecting agent to the companies, allowing NSA agents to still gather info on phone user records by obtaining permission from a judge. This permission would include the need of a mandate, which can only be acquired using a yet vague court system, much like the FISA courts.
The administration has asked the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to renew the collection program as it exists for more 90 days. If the bill passes, changes to the FISA system would have to be considered.
The involvement of young Americans speaking out against the bulk collection programs along with other efforts, mainly Sen. Ran Paul’s lawsuit against the NSA and the Tenth Amendment Center’s fight to urge State level lawmakers to enact legislation that keeps the NSA out of their states, have been costing Obama his popularity.
By publicly admitting that he believes there are multiple concerns raised by Americans and non-Americans regarding the NSA bulk collection program that should be answered, President Obama was immediately welcomed by many media outlets that seemed to have listened to his speech but unfortunately failed to read the final print.
While no further details concerning the proposal are available, organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation are welcoming the President’s possible change of heart but taking his promises with a grain of salt. According to the EFF, the best and most effective piece of legislation tackling this issue is the USA FREEDOM ACT, which would end bulk collections.
The administration could also make sure the phone data collection program is brought to a halt by simply stopping to misuse section 215 of the PATRIOT ACT and section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act and Executive Order 12333.
Following Obama’s statement, Sen. Paul appeared on Fox & Friends to talk about the president’s assertions regarding the piece of legislation he is now backing.
After claiming he believed his efforts might have inspired Obama to revisit the subject, Paul warned that the “president sometimes says one thing and does another, so the devil is in the details here.”
Paul showed discomfort in knowing that the only major change President Obama is willing to embrace is putting user data in the hands of communications providers instead of federal agencies. This change would essentially mean nothing would really change since data would still be available through potentially the same FISA court system that is now in effect.
While the core issue has yet to be addressed, Obama continues to claim his decision to back this bill is enough to address the public’s concerns related to the NSA spying programs.