Legislation emerges for more surveillance, less privacy

Dec 07, 2015 11:00 pm
After the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Colorado, and California, U.S. lawmakers are calling for much more surveillance and much less privacy. This moment in Washington D.C. seems a lot like late September 2001, when President George Bush could get any spying power he wanted from Congress. All of the sudden, there is a rush to surveil in D.C. these days. Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, said he'll give any spying power President Obama wants. "He should tell us what legal authorities he needs to defeat encrypted online communications, and what is needed to reestablish our capture, interrogation, and surveillance capabilities," McConnell said. "I will urge high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice," President Barack Obama said in his address to the nation Dec. 6. But change won't just come from the top. Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Angus King (I-Maine) on Dec. 3 introduced a bill requiring telephone companies to notify the government if they plan on altering their policies for storing consumers’ phone data. On Dec. 8, the House Foreign Affairs Committee debates legislation called the "Combat Terrorist Use of Social Media Act." The bill requires the White House to create a, "policy that enhances the exchange of information and dialogue between the Federal Government and social media companies as it relates to the use of social media platforms by terrorists" and, "a comprehensive strategy to counter terrorists' and terrorist organizations' use of social media." Of course, in France, the possible legislation is even worse for civil rights. The Le Monde newspaper found leaked documents that show France's Ministry of Interior considering proposals to ban free and shared Wi-Fi during a state of emergency, and to block the online privacy Tor network inside France. The latter idea would be nearly impossible, though French authorities certainly could make it difficult for non-computer experts.
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