Most people's memories of the NSA revolve around two people: Edward Snowden and Sam Fisher. And whilst the latter is generally known for being the cooler of the two, Snowden did bring a lot of important conversations to the mainstream. However, we as human beings only tend to focus on that which we are directly affected by and the carrot being dangled in front of us. This is convenient for most governments as it allows them to cut corners and strip you of your rights and liberties all while you either unwittingly agree or weren't around to stop it.
Sam will always protect for you.
One such corner being ignored harder than cheating in the NFL is the warrant requirement for your communications. Due to some clever writing and a dash of apathetic compliance, our government can circumvent the normally required search warrant process to retrieve, store, and review nearly all your communications.
I know, hang in there.
Let me explain what's going on in a terrible metaphor. So, say you jump the gun on this whole medical marijuana finally being legal in your state and start growing the devil's weed. Normally, the police would need some sort of legally obtained indication that you are committing a crime to waltz into your domicile and start looking for that dank broccoli. If they just kicked open your door and started perusing, that would fall under 'illegal search and seizure' constitutional protections and anything obtained would be inadmissible, often referred to as 'fruits of a poisonous tree.'
Search warrants are boring to write and often need revisions or get completely rejected by judges altogether, and your National Security Agency needs to move faster than the speed of the convenient boogeyman known as 'terrorism.' So, after some catastrophic catalysts, congress was able to enact the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which enabled them to do just that. Section 702 allows for the collection of foreign communications and is intended to essentially allow us to spy on anyone outside the US. Sounds pretty fucking good so far, why should I give a shit?
Turns out, for a communication to be considered foreign, only one part of the communication needs to be outside the US. Right now you are thinking, I don't talk to anyone outside the US, fuck this. Nah fam, your communication only needs to leave the US at any time.
All those searches for weird porn and dick pics you sent to your side chick have almost assuredly been viewed by an intelligence agent.
Now you understand the gravity of the situation.
Up until now, those agencies have had carte blanche to just go nuts with scrolling through your private communications. However, the Foreign Surveillance Act is set to expire, and Congress is going to re-authorize the majority of the provisions set forth by it in the newly worded USA Liberty Act. As a brief aside, any bill dressed up with 'Liberty', 'Patriot' or any other bullshit, feel-good buzzword is likely teeming with rights violations. This new bill is going to add restrictions that require search warrants to be obtained should the information being collected be part of a criminal investigation. However, if the information being collected is just to search through it for 'intelligence', all bets are off and its business as usual, and business is good.
Oops... just a couple extra people (The Washington Post)
That's right friends:
The USA Liberty does not require government agents to apply for a warrant when searching through 702-collected data for investigations related to foreign intelligence.
If this bothers you, here is what you can do:
Go to, https://www.endthebackdoor.com/ and contact your congressman or congresswoman. Give them a mission to protect our civil liberties and keep our private communications as just that, private. If you aren't concerned about this, may I urge you to reconsider with a quote from Martin Niemöller:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
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