November 2, 2007
LEGISLATION AUTHORIZING WARRANTLESS WIRETAPPING
S. 2248, THE
ROCKEFELLER / ADMINISTRATION
S. 2248, the Administration /
Rockefeller bill is pretty much the same monster Congress passed in August, the
so-called Protect America Act. The
major difference is that it gives the Attorney General the sole discretion to
provide retroactive and prospective immunity to any company that spies on its
customers. Some of the highlights
of S. 2248:
- Just like the Protect America
Act, the Administration / Rockefeller bill allows the Attorney General and
Director of National Intelligence to issue year long orders for surveillance
without any prior court review, as long as one participant in the conversation
is foreign. As a result, the courts
would not operate as a check on governmental access to our information.
- S. 2248 allows surveillance
orders that do not even specify who is going to be listened to or what
facilities the government is going to tap into, authorizing dragnets that can
sweep up Americans’ communications just as long as a specific, known
US person isn’t the “target.”
S. 2248 allows the government
to keep, use and disseminate any US person’s information collected
under this new warrantless dragnet.
The Administration / Rockefeller bill does not contain any statutory
limit on how Americans’ phone calls and emails can be used, nor does it require
that the information ever be destroyed, permitting the government to datamine or
otherwise abuse it.
- S. 2248 permits the Attorney
General to single handedly kill all pending and future consumer protection cases
brought in either state or federal court that seek to hold the telecoms
accountable for illegally handing our information over to the government. This authority is unlimited and would
even end states’ utility commission investigations or suits that only seek to
stop the companies from spying on us in the future.
- S. 2248 is subject to a six
year sunset, on December 31, 2013, putting the next mandatory review of this law
past two future elections.