May 29, 2015
On June 1st, the infamous Patriot Act is set to expire. Yet right now, Congress is debating the USA Freedom Act, a supposed reform of the aforementioned law. But what is the difference between these two bills? How does, if at all, the USA Freedom Act curb the groundless search and seizure of private information? Here’s a Libertarian’s guide.
The Patriot Act. The law that provided the justification for the mass collection of data exposed by Edward Snowden. This was passed in the aftermath of 9/11 to fight terrorism abroad. However, under the NSA, the program expanded to include collecting US citizen phone records and electronic data. Section 215 gave the federal government the “right” to collect bulk metadata on who you called and when you called. Even when the NSA had no suspicion you were supporting terrorist activity.
And now in a couple days, this practice shall hopefully fade into the sunset, never to be seen again. However, Congress and the White House are feverishly fighting to preserve NSA domestic surveillance under the guise of a new law.
The USA Freedom Act. The U.S. House recently passed this bill, which is touted as a practical reform. It prohibits direct government collection of bulk phone data. However, NSA spying shall continue, just more insidiously. Now, the telephone companies will be doing the dirty work, combing through records at the government’s request. And since these companies have more in-depth information, the new bill is quite possibly a change for the worse.
Instead, we need to abolish the practice of government spying on its own citizens. Any reform that leaves this practice in place is no true change. We have the right to privacy and due process. It’s time the federal government remembered that.
Concerned about the expansion of government control and the erosion of individual liberty? Please consider joining and becoming active with the Libertarian Party of Minnesota. Libertarians support liberty on all issues, all the time! Libertarianism is a philosophical and political movement to promote personal freedom, strong civil liberties, a genuinely free marketplace, and peace.