Congress passed a bill expanding the collection activities of the NSA. In a 325-100 vote, Congress gave broad new powers to the NSA to “collect Americans’ phone and email communications without warrants, share the data with the FBI and foreign governments, and, in some instances, retain the records indefinitely, according to reports.”
The bill “grants the executive branch virtually unlimited access to the communications of every American,” Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican and outspoken privacy advocate who tried to stop this measure.
What started out as “just metadata” has now expanded to phone and email communications with no warrant required.
And just what are “lawmakers” using as justification for this action – Executive order 12333 signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. In 1981, the electronic communications of today did not exist. Executive order 12333 was originally intended to “target foreign surveillance” even though an unknown amount of US data is tracked “incidentally” when citizens are overseas or citizens communicate with foreigners. It is similar to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But, this Reagan “order” has been amended twice by President George W. Bush. It is Section 215 of the US PATRIOT Act that allows for the mass collection of domestic telephone metadata.
In case you missed the important part, here it is in bold italics – allows the NSA to take virtually everything Americans do online and use it however it wants according to the rules it writes.
Not only will the government collect the metadata and contents of all our communications, that data can be shared with federal law enforcement and foreign governments. I find it interesting that this invasive, and unconstitutional act be inflicted on the American people, yet the IRS refuses to hand over Lois Lerner’s incriminating emails.