NSA may not stop data collection even if Congress makes it illegal

congress story

The USA Freedom Act aims to curb mass data collection by US intelligence agencies. However, even if the act is passed into law, because of the wording of the bill, it has been pointed out that it may not be effective enough to do so. In other words, NSA and co may have a loophole… even before the law becomes an actual law.

“If the USA Freedom Act becomes law, it’s going to depend on how the court interprets any number of the provisions that are in it,” James Cole said. Cole is the Deputy Attorney General and spoke out about these fears at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which took place on Wednesday.

“Right now the interpretation of the word ‘relevant’ is a broad interpretation,” Cole also said at the hearing. “Adding ‘pertinent to a foreign agent’ or ‘somebody in contact with a foreign agent’ could be another way of talking about relevance as it is right now. We’d have to see how broadly the court interprets that or how narrowly.”

The current NSA Director Keith Alexander still believes that the program should not be shut down. “There is no other way that we know of to connect the dots,” he said, and thinks that it is still a good way to keep an eye on terrorist threats. Luckily, or unluckily depending on which side of the fence you sit on, he is supposed to be leaving in the next couple of months.

I suppose it wouldn’t be politics if it didn’t have loopholes.

[via arstechnica, The Hill, USA Freedom Act, image via Jeffrey’s flickr]

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