Obama to Propose Legislation Ending NSA Bulk Records Collection

President Obama will introduce legislation to end the NSA's warrantless collection of bulk telephone records. Authority for the NSA's program expires Friday, unless renewed by the FISA Intelligence Court. According to senior administration officials:

Under the proposal, they said, the N.S.A. would end its systematic collection of data about Americans’ calling habits. The bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would. And the N.S.A. could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order.


The House Intelligence Committee, through Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) and Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D., Md.), is scheduled to introduce a proposed bill Tuesday that does not go as far as Obama's bill.

The Wall St. Journal reports that under Obama's proposal, a FISA judge would have to approve the data search beforehand, rather than after the fact. The House bill would not require the court order to issue first.

Mr. Ruppersberger said waiting days to obtain court approval won’t work. “You can’t gather intelligence that way,” he said. “It takes too long.”


The House intelligence committee bill doesn’t require a request be part of an ongoing investigation, Mr. Ruppersberger said, because intelligence probes aim to uncover what should be investigated, not what already is under investigation.

According to the Washington Post:

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees the program, would have to approve each number as having likely ties to a suspected terrorist or terrorist group.

The House bill to be introduced Tuesday, unlike Obama's proposal, is not expected to require the NSA to show a connection to terrorist activity.

Obama will support one more 90 day renewal of the current NSA program by the FISA Court.

A draft proposal of the House bill, dated March 21, 2014, is here.

Shorter version of Obama's proposal: Records will still be collected, they will just be held by the phone company or service provider rather than the NSA. A FISA court order will be required for the NSA to access specific phone records from the providers. For each request, the NSA will have to show some kind of connection to terrorist activity. The NSA will be able to request data "two hops" away from the target phone number (rather than "three hops.") Providers won't have to retain data longer than 18 months.

The House bill sounds like a loser. It seems like it will codify some of the NSA's practices. Obama's proposal is better. Even better yet would be to stop the collection altogether, and short of that, to allow notice to the target and an opportunity to be heard by a court. Also, these proposals don't address the collection of foreign data, and it's not clear whether what other data it will apply to besides phone records, such as location information, business records (money transfers) and internet data.

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    Rand Paul NSA lawsuit (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by Mikado Cat on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:41:32 PM EST
    Spin on the right is that this is Obama doing some CYA before the lawsuit makes him look bad.

    My day to day thought is that I am not convinced all of the security measures are doing anything useful.

    Greenwald: Partisan Hackery Astonishing (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by Mr Natural on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:51:53 PM EST
    to watch.

    But that's not what will happen. After spending months praising the NSA for responsibly overseeing this critical program, they will now hail Obama for trying to end it. When he secretly bulk collects the calling data on all Americans, it shows he's a pragmatic and strong leader who "Keeps Us Safe"[TM]; when he tries to end the very same program, it shows he's flexible and devoted to our civil liberties -- just as he was right to release the torture photos and also right to suppress them. The Leader is right when he does X, and he's equally right when he does Not X. That's the defining attribute of the mindset of a partisan hack, an authoritarian, and the standard MSNBC host.

    HufPost: "Obama's NSA Proposals Are A Vindication Of Our Reporting"

    Agreed (none / 0) (#52)
    by Slado on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 10:25:03 PM EST
    Obama lovers start by saying Obama is right and then work out the details from there.

    Hey! You must be great at playing Jeapordy (none / 0) (#54)
    by NYShooter on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 11:02:00 PM EST
    "Obama lovers start by saying Obama is right and then work out the details from there."

    Question: "What is a perfect example of a Troll comment?"


    Gotta cultivate some common ground, or (5.00 / 2) (#57)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 11:49:16 AM EST
    people won't listen.  In classical rhetoric, this is called Ethos.

    Reform (5.00 / 6) (#35)
    by KeysDan on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 02:01:15 PM EST
    should include the jettisoning of  the present procedure and make-up of the so called, "FISA Court."   I say,  so called, because it is not a Court and should not be so dignified.  Maybe, "Federal Rubber Stamp Committee" would be more appropriate. If not a rubber-stamp, the structure and process do nothing to dissuade that perception.

     Appointments to the FISA "Court" and the "Court" of Review (appellate) are all made by the the Chief Justice with no Congressional confirmation or review.   The skewing of its make-up with essentially all Republican federal judges, is an example of abuse of power by the  packing of like-minded, non-diverse thinkers.  

    After the revelations from Edward Snowden and the ensuing criticisms, Chief Justice Roberts made some changes as vacancies occurred so as to include some Clinton appointees, although these judges are Republicans, appointed as part of a deal. There is  one appointment from President Obama (of the eleven members).

    The rarity of the "Court" of Review convening makes the Maytag repairman seem as busy as the proverbial one-arm paper hanger.  And, this "Court" works in secret and creates a secret body of law.

    Curiously, for example, a Surgeon General and an Assistant AG in DOJ needs Senate confirmation, but this court with great power does not, nor does the appointment stem from the nomination of the president).  

    The "Court" sits ex parte and hears no adversarial points of view.  We do not know what legal processes are being followed.  There is no opposing testimony, just a one-sided legal process.   We have only the FISA judge's word for it that all is well, that is, if that word was not secret.

    The president has not called for any structural reforms, but he does, at least, include a public advocate.  Which could be good, depending on the details.  For simple starters, let's no longer call the FISA Court a Court.

    First, a caveat: (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by NYShooter on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 09:48:37 PM EST
    My comment/question is, sincerely, not meant as a criticism:

    All the facts you stated (and, they are facts) regarding the make-up, and, the protocols that govern the administration of the FISA court are well known, and, public knowledge. They, apparently, are features that the designers felt were critical for the court to function speedily, and, effectively in achieving the results they hoped to achieve.

    Since these "features" are so well known, with no attempt to hide them, or, obfuscate the reasons for them, it almost seems like they're inviting anyone and everyone who believes in "checks & balances" to howl in understandable protest. Well, the protests have certainly been forthcoming. And, like I intimated, and, said, like you, "WTF?"

    So, finally, to get to my point, why has there been a virtual media blackout in asking the Administration the first question that came to, at least, my mind when I first heard of the FISA Court structure......"WHY?" Oh, the criticisms came fast & furious, and, understandably so. But, why has no reporter, nor, any other Representative, asked the most obvious question, "what is it about this court that you have asked the public to look the other way in ignoring such obvious lack of democratic principles? Even serial killers have "rights" in our court system. What makes this court so special that we, the people, should willingly, and, unquestionably, close our eyes to what seems to be a repudiation of our Constitution?"

    Now, I'm no Mensa candidate, I, willingly, offered myself up to be killed, maimed, and/or, tortured, slogging through the jungles of SE Asia many years ago. At least then, when I asked, "why?" (are we here?) I got an answer I could understand, "cause you're an idiot." Great!  But, that was then, and, this is now.

    And, yet, I'm afraid the answer today (to the question of why we accept the FISA court as it is) would be the same as it was then,

    "Cause we're all idiots."



    What a freaking joke (none / 0) (#1)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 09:52:44 AM EST

    The NSA works for the executive branch.  He can order discontinuance of bulk collection on his own authority.  Right now.  No legislation needed.

    Don't you think (5.00 / 3) (#2)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 10:14:45 AM EST
    If it was that easy, he would have done it already and eliminated years of bad press?

    You're (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 11:28:44 AM EST
    assuming that he is really opposed to all this data collection.

    I do not make that assumption - based on his initial response to the revelations by Snowden. He just called it an "inconvenience" and defended it a la Bush as something we need for our "security".

    The security of rats in a cage...


    I'm not assuming anything (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 12:07:39 PM EST
    But if he wanted the bad press to go away and to divert attention so he could control the message (and frankly, to highlight that this was all a Republican's (GWB's) doing), then he would have done away with it if it was just a matter of taking his magic wand and wishing it away.

    I don't assume that even if any bill is passed that much is going to change.  I've lived under the assumption that my information and calls were being logged (rightly or wrongly) since I got my first cell phone, so none of this was shocking or surprising to me.  Edward Snowden didn't reveal anything I didn't suspect to begin with.


    My opinion (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 12:14:55 PM EST
    is that he is not the least bit disturbed by the NSA's activities. You can know that by his initial reaction after the Snowden revelations.

    That he is making this gesture is --- well, it's just a gesture.

    Nothing will come of it.

    The phone companies and associated enterprises will collect as usual - and turn things over when asked to do so.

    The option of them NOT collecting - but just leaving us alone to express ourselves without them looking over our shoulders is - as I read it - not on the table.

    Obama is most comfortable when he is in the arms of the relics of the Bush era.


    I have to agree with you on that one (5.00 / 4) (#14)
    by ruffian on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 12:20:04 PM EST
    Even if his motives were good, which, like you, I just don't believe anymore, he knows that nothing is getting through this Congress without being significantly 'righted'. Everything he proposes at this point is a gesture. Maybe some day when the tell all memoirs are written we will learn where his real preferences fell on the spectrum.

    I agree (none / 0) (#50)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 08:05:11 PM EST
    that it just a gesture - and as such will be as meaningless as his other gestures.

    Only thing is... when the memoirs are all written, we'll find out that his real preferences are exactly as we are currently perceiving them.


    I'm confused (none / 0) (#15)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 12:24:30 PM EST
    The phone companies and associated enterprises will collect as usual - and turn things over when asked to do so.

    Why do you think the phone companies shouldn't collect this data?  It's their data.  And if they are presented with proper subpoenas, are you saying they should not comply?  As I understand it, Obama's proposal would not require phone companies to keep the data any longer than they normally do.  Are you saying that you think as soon as you make a call or text over public airwaves, any record of that should be destroyed??

    Funny, that's the same argument the NRA about background checks and gun registration.


    It's (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:00:43 PM EST
    only their data once they collect it.

    Saying it's their data implies that they have a right to it.
    In my opinion, it's our data.

    It's like saying that if someone steals your car, it's their car.

    Just the way I feel about it.


    I have a feeling that if you read (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by ruffian on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:06:56 PM EST
    the fine print of your service agreement you will find you gave them your data.

    I'm sure (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:12:24 PM EST
    you're right - but what choice do we have?

    A dixie cup and a thread?



    Jimmy Carter uses snail mail. (5.00 / 2) (#38)
    by oculus on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 02:40:59 PM EST
    No (none / 0) (#29)
    by vicndabx on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:27:04 PM EST
    you can always opt out:

    How to Limit the Sharing and Use of Your Information

    Your Choices

    * Customer Information:

    You may choose to opt out of the sharing of specific customer information, within the Verizon family of companies for certain marketing purposes.
    Read more

    * Telemarketing:

    You may request to be removed from the Verizon telemarketing lists at any time.
    Read more

    * Marketing Email, Postal Mail and Door-to-Door Calls:

    You may opt out of receiving marketing-related emails, text messages, or postal mailings or prevent door-to-door marketing.
    Read more

    * Information Used for Online Advertising:

    You have choices about whether certain information collected on websites, including Verizon's, is used to customize advertising based on predictions generated from your visits over time and across different websites.
    Read more

    * Wireless Location Services:

    Verizon Wireless services that use mobile device location data provide you with notice about the collection and use of this data as well as choices about whether specific location-tracking features available on your phone are turned on.
    Read more

    * FiOS TV Services:

    Specific privacy protections apply to Verizon's FiOS and other fiber-to-the-premises services.
    Read more

    * Relevant Advertising:

    Customers may opt-out of participating in relevant advertising programs on their Internet access services or their FiOS television service.
    Read more

    * Business and Marketing Reports:

    Verizon Wireless customers may opt-out of allowing Verizon Wireless to use their information to create aggregated business and marketing reports.
    Read more

    They still have the basics: (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by Farmboy on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:30:19 PM EST
    who you called, when you called, and for how long. I doubt you can opt out of them collecting that, short of canceling your account.

    I honestly don't understand (none / 0) (#36)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 02:07:28 PM EST
    Why this is so,terrifying. I'm sure there are many thing the NSA does that would but the idea that they know who I call, when and for how long just doesn't keep me awake at night.

    I make the trade too (none / 0) (#39)
    by ruffian on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 03:05:02 PM EST
    I don't believe they are stealing it if I have contractually agreed to let them have it.

    But (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 07:12:43 PM EST
    isn't that a little like saying that in order to prevent your store from having its windows broken, you have to pay the mob to protect you?

    That's a contractual arrangement too.

    These companies are stealing because they hold a figurative gun to your head. Pay us - let us spy on you - or you will have no telephone service.

    Just the way I feel.


    Another thought... (none / 0) (#48)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 07:16:12 PM EST
    Perhaps the free enterprise system will come to our rescue.

    Some company might spring up that would offer a service that does not collect data.

    And the people could choose which service to subscribe to.


    Bad analogy (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:14:29 PM EST
    Stealing your car you own has no comparison to using a phone. (Although a bank could surely come get your car without your permission if you fail to pay the bill).

    What we're talking about here is more akin to you driving on a road that connects you from point A to B and maybe to C and D.  You don't own the road - the city / county / state / federal government owns the road.  You don't get to decide how the road should be used or if the county can do a survey to see how many cars travel on it on a given day or what speed limit should be set or if cameras are installed or what signage should go up.  That data belongs to the body that has jurisdiction over it - not you.  (I realize it's not a perfect analogy because as government entities, much of that data can be eventually accessed by the public and/or in some instances, can be voted upon by the public).

    When you talk on a phone or send a text or email -you are using lines that do not belong to you. You are using the telecommunications company's servers with a unique number given to you by the telecommunication company to send a message or conversation across their lines. While there is case law and good arguments protecting the content of what you say over those lines, the actual data showing a call was placed / text was sent, etc. does not belong to you.  How do you think that data belongs to you?


    Interesting point. (none / 0) (#45)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 07:05:27 PM EST
    But I still feel that the service I am interested in obtaining and paying for is one that allows me to communicate.

    At present, the only companies offering that service include the caveat that they can also create a profile of their clients and provide it to government agencies.

    And on top of it, the basic service is often unreliable.
    And all of the collection must add to the cost of the service.
    They have to pay people to do this, I would assume. And they add that to our bill.

    A communications company should provide communications.
    Spying should not be a related activity that we are obliged to pay for in order to communicate with our family or business associates.



    That's the expected GOP response (5.00 / 5) (#3)
    by CoralGables on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 10:24:32 AM EST
    Do it yourself, you're a fascist dictator. Go through congress and you're a joke for not doing it yourself.

    If he walked across the (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 10:28:02 AM EST
    Potomac to save a drowning child the headline would be

    Obama Can't Swim


    He's (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 11:19:44 AM EST
    not walking across the Potomac to save anybody.

    Don't worry about it.


    Dictator (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 11:25:58 AM EST

    The question is one worth asking:

    Does the president have the authority to order discontinuance of bulk collection?

    If he does, he should use it.

    Nothing fascist or even republican about it.

    If he doesn't have the authority, so be it.
    We'll just have to live with this severe diminution of our right to privacy in exchange for the promise of more security. Ben Franklin would love that.


    "A Republic, if you can keep it..." (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Mr Natural on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 11:44:40 AM EST
    American pols all live in deathly fear (none / 0) (#16)
    by jondee on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 12:37:36 PM EST
    of being the one on whose "watch" an attack happened because they didn't use every tool at their disposal to prevent it. And we may be one more 9/11 away from becoming China when it comes to the loss of privacy and "personal freedoms". The ultimate and final blow-back..

    People who talk about curbing the surveillance state without talking also about somehow deconstructing the interventionist, militarized, national security state aren't living in the real world, imo.  


    OK (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 12:57:00 PM EST
    People who talk about curbing the surveillance state without talking also about somehow deconstructing the interventionist, militarized, national security state aren't living in the real world, imo.  

    Obama is talking about - or at least making sounds about curbing the surveillance state.  

    So, now - let him make some sounds about deconstructing the interventionist, militarized, national security state.

    I'm interested.

    I live in the real world.


    As a quick example, how about START? (none / 0) (#26)
    by Farmboy on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:15:08 PM EST
    From back in 2010 - link

    Ah (none / 0) (#34)
    by Mikado Cat on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:59:41 PM EST
    START, the idea being to make the world safe for conventional warfare again.

    Only two relatively safe levels of nuclear weapons, none, and a lot. The middle area where people are still armed, but its short of mutually assured destruction in a worst case response, that will be a dangerous time.


    An observation was made that Obama (none / 0) (#37)
    by Farmboy on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 02:36:04 PM EST
    hasn't yet started to talk about things like deconstructing our ability to destroy each other. I pointed to the signing of START as an example that Obama has gone much further that just talking.

    True, but (none / 0) (#17)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 12:54:53 PM EST
    People who talk about curbing the surveillance state without talking also about somehow deconstructing the interventionist, militarized, national security state aren't living in the real world, imo.

    You'd have to get the rest of the world to place nice as well.  You think China or Russia will give up spying?  You think al-Qaeda or one of its offshoots will stop planning terrorist attacks?

    Just wishing it so doesn't actually make the problems go away.


    I believe (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:10:53 PM EST
    what Benjamin Franklin said:

    "They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

    I believe that to be true.

    If we give up our freedoms to the rightwing cabal in Washington, it is no different than giving them up to any other enemy - foreign or domestic.

    And I also believe that in giving up these freedoms, not only will we not "deserve" liberty or safety, we will not get liberty or safety either.


    Wow (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by vicndabx on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:23:09 PM EST
    so US Gov't  = North Korea?

    I really wonder what Ben Franklin would've said in today's world where we have nuclear materials, chemical weapons, biological weapons, infectious diseases, an interconnected global economy, children that ride school buses on highways, etc., etc., etc.

    Comparisons between the 21st and 17th/18th century seem ill-advised IMO.

    What's ironic is that you would prefer we just "trust" each other, but yet, have no trust in your fellow citizens/elected officials to uphold their responsibilities to their communities & constituents - responsibly.


    Firstly, (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 06:42:34 PM EST
    it is exactly true that I have no trust in my fellow citizens/elected officials to uphold their responsibilities to their communities & constituents - responsibly.

    Why should I trust my elected officials?

    What have they done to earn my trust?

    In recent history, there were those sterling elected officials Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. And there were those sterling elected officials on the other side of the aisle that gave them carte blanche. And these felons are still being treated with respect instead of being dragged before the people's bar of justice.

    Then, there is the even more recent history in which we find that our government is still trampling on what are in my view our constitutional protections. And we have a president, another elected official, condoning the practice and lambasting the person (NOT an elected official) who brought it to our attention.

    I would have to be a fool to trust them. In my opinion that is.

    You can trust whomever you like.

    I also repeat: I do not believe for one moment that the indiscriminate collection of phone records and emails makes us safer.

    Figuring out and being sensitive to the needs and conditions of people who think that we are oppressors and colonizers could be most helpful in making us safer. But tapping phones without warrants? Don't believe it for a second.

    Lastly, I did not say that the US = North Korea - although it may.

    What I said was that if my freedom is being taken away - or I am being asked to give it up - it doesn't matter to me whether it is being done but a foreign power or a local one.

    That's why when one country is taken over by another, they install locals to do their bidding and control the populace. It feels more comfortable if someone you know is ripping you off or terrorizing you - rather than some dang foreigner.


    I think (none / 0) (#49)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 08:01:27 PM EST
    that it is worth considering that Ben was in just as much danger in his day as we are in ours.

    And he still felt what he said.

    And I do too.


    LOL, you're going to love going out of your home (none / 0) (#55)
    by NYShooter on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 11:12:45 PM EST
    when Google's "Glass" becomes ubiquitous.

    What is "essential liberty"? (none / 0) (#27)
    by jbindc on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:19:15 PM EST
    Don't you do that all the time?  As much as I hate to quote Bill Maher, he did make a point about this quote:

    "They who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." ... What do you think you are doing when you stop your car at a red light, or pay taxes? I am not free to keep all my money. I have to give some of the money to the government so they can equip an army, pay the police. ... This is called the social contract. No Ben Franklin in his time could afford to be absolutist about not trading any liberty for safety because in 1755 the worst weapon the enemy could bring against you was a canon or a musket. ...

    You wanna see one reason I am willing to negotiate away some of my freedom for security? ... The MK54 is a portable nuclear bomb that weighs just 51 pounds and we've known how to make it since the 1950s which means other people can make one too. Do I want someone snooping into their email? YES. ... But I also want there to be draconian penalties if they snoop for any other reason. Then I can live with my tradeoff. ...

    The good news is there are at least ten bills in the House and Senate right now that would modify or outright repeal the Patriot Act. We are at least now having that debate about our security tradeoffs. And for that, I gotta give credit to Mr. Ed Snowden. ... Before he showed up with his nerd glasses and his stripper girlfriend, nobody was talking about the NSA. It was just another government agency nobody paid attention to. You know, like Congress.

    Paying taxes (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by Mikado Cat on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:54:12 PM EST
    isn't giving up essential liberty. We do have a social contract, but its more civil conduct and managing the practical aspects of many people in the same place, a balancing of individual rights that overlap between people.

    Essential liberty include those set out in the constitution and bill of rights, and those should not be pushed around.

    Maher is nuts though if he assumes surrender of rights is going to make him safe.


    Every pol in every country lives in deathly fear (none / 0) (#41)
    by Wile ECoyote on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 03:53:31 PM EST
    of not using every tool at their disposal. Look at how Malaysia is being portrayed because of the perceived botched search of the MH370.  Or how Brazil is quickly sending Federal troops into Rio in order to quell violence before visitors hit the beaches for the World Cup in June.  

    Except for... (none / 0) (#62)
    by unitron on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 02:20:50 PM EST
    ...those on whose watch 9/11 actually happened.

    They saw it as an opportunity.


    The (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:02:36 PM EST
    issue on the table is the curbing of the excesses of the NSA - not how Obama is perceived.

    So the (none / 0) (#6)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 11:20:49 AM EST
    phone companies or "service providers" will still collect all the data - just not turn it over.

    Uh huh.

    Exactly (none / 0) (#8)
    by Lora on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 11:26:45 AM EST
    What will they do with all our information?  Any laws to regulate THAT???

    There are laws regulating the telecommunication (none / 0) (#22)
    by Farmboy on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 01:08:53 PM EST
    industry. These laws, dating back to the 1920s, allow the phone companies to collect your phone usage records. What do they do with that information? Well, primarily they use it to bill you.

    These laws also spell out that the usage records are their property, compiled from services you chose to contract, and under terms that you willingly agreed to.

    Fortunately you're free to quit providing them with that data at any time. Just cancel your account. Viola.


    Who (none / 0) (#44)
    by lentinel on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 06:52:51 PM EST
    wouldn't want to cancel their account with someone who provides a necessary service, takes your money, but adds spying to the mix.

    I know I would.

    But our communications system is controlled by like-minded corporate monopolies. These monopolies have a powerful say in who is elected to government - and the government protects those who put money in their pockets and power in their hands.

    And, in kind, the government puts money and power in the hands of the corporate monopolies.

    Great, huh?

    Of course most of us cannot depend on carrier pigeons, so we are stuck with our phones companies and their attendant abusive practices.

    But I don't have to like it - or try to convince myself or anyone that it is for my own good.


    Do you shop in a store? (none / 0) (#56)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 07:52:29 AM EST
    Do you ever use store-issued cards, like at CVS?

    You know they track you too, don't you - even if you use cash?

    The desire to collect information on customers is not new for Target or any other large retailer, of course. For decades, Target has collected vast amounts of data on every person who regularly walks into one of its stores. Whenever possible, Target assigns each shopper a unique code -- known internally as the Guest ID number -- that keeps tabs on everything they buy. "If you use a credit card or a coupon, or fill out a survey, or mail in a refund, or call the customer help line, or open an e-mail we've sent you or visit our Web site, we'll record it and link it to your Guest ID," Pole said. "We want to know everything we can."

    Also linked to your Guest ID is demographic information like your age, whether you are married and have kids, which part of town you live in, how long it takes you to drive to the store, your estimated salary, whether you've moved recently, what credit cards you carry in your wallet and what Web sites you visit. Target can buy data about your ethnicity, job history, the magazines you read, if you've ever declared bankruptcy or got divorced, the year you bought (or lost) your house, where you went to college, what kinds of topics you talk about online, whether you prefer certain brands of coffee, paper towels, cereal or applesauce, your political leanings, reading habits, charitable giving and the number of cars you own. (In a statement, Target declined to identify what demographic information it collects or purchases.) All that information is meaningless, however, without someone to analyze and make sense of it. That's where Andrew Pole and the dozens of other members of Target's Guest Marketing Analytics department come in.

    Almost every major retailer, from grocery chains to investment banks to the U.S. Postal Service, has a "predictive analytics" department devoted to understanding not just consumers' shopping habits but also their personal habits, so as to more efficiently market to them. "But Target has always been one of the smartest at this," says Eric Siegel, a consultant and the chairman of a conference called Predictive Analytics World. "We're living through a golden age of behavioral research. It's amazing how much we can figure out about how people think now."

    The reason Target can snoop on our shopping habits is that, over the past two decades, the science of habit formation has become a major field of research in neurology and psychology departments at hundreds of major medical centers and universities, as well as inside extremely well financed corporate labs. "It's like an arms race to hire statisticians nowadays," said Andreas Weigend, the former chief scientist at Amazon.com. "Mathematicians are suddenly sexy." As the ability to analyze data has grown more and more fine-grained, the push to understand how daily habits influence our decisions has become one of the most exciting topics in clinical research, even though most of us are hardly aware those patterns exist. One study from Duke University estimated that habits, rather than conscious decision-making, shape 45 percent of the choices we make every day, and recent discoveries have begun to change everything from the way we think about dieting to how doctors conceive treatments for anxiety, depression and addictions.

    No one is trying to convince you that the phone (none / 0) (#59)
    by Farmboy on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 02:59:21 PM EST
    companies keeping billing records is for your own good. It's so they can bill you for the services that you voluntarily used.

    Are you as upset with the server at a restaurant when s/he presents you with the bill for the food you just ate? Do you question them regarding the restaurant's monopoly of the food and drinks provided in that retail space?

    Or do you realize that by eating the food they provided in response to your order that you'd be required to pay?


    Huh? (none / 0) (#60)
    by Lora on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 08:14:22 PM EST
    If I pay cash for food at a restaurant, that is my business -- and remains my business only, unless the restaurant used sophisticated surveillance video while I ate and paid my bill.

    When the phone company collects tons of data about me and stores it for its own use, it MAY simply use it to bill me for service.  But who's to say that's the only use for the information?

    If the government can't have it without a court order, that's great.  But who else can have it, or buy it, and to what use might they put it?

    Just asking.  


    "If the government (none / 0) (#63)
    by NYShooter on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 10:43:25 PM EST
    can't have it without a court order, that's great."  

    1. "But, who else can have (or buy) it?"......"Anyone (virtually) who can write a check for the going rate."

    2. "what use might they put it?"......"That's easy; to sell you more stuff."


    Authority (none / 0) (#13)
    by vicndabx on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 12:19:16 PM EST
    Background for those that are interested.

    IANAL, but IMO, the President can "end" it by simply not requesting the surveillance via FISA courts.  However, w/o a change to the law, any other president can simply resume the practice - hence the proposal today.

    I am not so naïve or idealistic to think that in today's world, a president would risk his/her citizens w/o a compelling reason to do so.  I.e. given what we know (see background) would've worked to prevent 9/11, the executive is just going to abrogate what they likely view as a primary responsibility, nothing nefarious about it.

    Having the data one step removed is, IMO, a step in the right direction and probably as far as we should go.

    Rand Paul on this subject (none / 0) (#40)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 03:35:38 PM EST
    "I don't want to take ALL the credit for this but ........."

    LOL. will he take the blame for the (none / 0) (#42)
    by ruffian on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 03:58:15 PM EST
    weak-a** cr** that is going to make it out of Congress?

    The "hipsters" (none / 0) (#46)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 07:11:13 PM EST
    Will probably give him credit for it.  What the hell is a hipster anyway.

    Around here a hipster is defined as needing to turn sideways to get thru the door at Walmart.


    Hipsters... (none / 0) (#53)
    by unitron on Tue Mar 25, 2014 at 10:51:49 PM EST
    ...are the reason that only ugly eyeglasses frames are available anymore.

    I don't trust Obama (none / 0) (#58)
    by Mikado Cat on Wed Mar 26, 2014 at 02:06:07 PM EST
    I want some serious teeth in some kind of accountable oversight, not a promise to be good until caught again.