A few minutes ago I saw this tweet from President Obama about the Senate passing the USA Freedom Act.
Glad the Senate finally passed the USA Freedom Act. It protects civil liberties and our national security. I'll sign it as soon as I get it.— President Obama (@POTUS) June 2, 2015
Um, so about that.
Instead of the NSA maintaining a big huge database of phone metadata, now the phone companies are required to maintain a big huge database for the government.
Now AT&T, and other phone providers, will be keeping a much bigger database of our activity that their employees can abuse. You know, like those NSA analysts who were swapping nudie pics from text messages and spying on their intimate partners.
When you add the fact telco's enjoy blanket immunity for their actions when spying for the feds does it help you sleep any better?
From that ArsTechnica article in that link about blanket immunity:
(the bill)...instructs a federal court to grant immunity from lawsuits to any telecom that received a written directive from the attorney general, regardless of whether the company believed its actions to be lawful.
We've swapped one spymaster for two. One public, and one private. Neither one is accountable to any of us.
Terrorism is a real threat. The government should be able to investigate and stop those threats. The problem is this NSA program, covering the term of two presidents, doesn't help our ability to stop an attack in any measurable way. This program has failed to yield a single verifiable instance where 'intel' gathered in bulk stopped a terrorist attack. The White House panel convened to investigate the NSA program revealed by Edward Snowden confirmed this when it said,
“Our review suggests that the information contributed to terrorist investigations by the use of . . . telephony metadata was not essential to preventing attacks and could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional [court] orders,”
Maybe you're someone who feels they can trust the government today because you've got nothing to hide. There's a really good chance that is completely true, but do you really want anyone tracking everywhere you go, everyone you talk to, and every message you send across the Internet?
I sure don't.