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May 22, 2014

NSA Bill Gets Statist Revision

Let’s be more specific, please.

The bill that is working its way through Congress to limit the powers of the NSA was revised with suggestions from the Obama administration that potentially renders the bill useless. In the beginning, the bill said intelligence needed to be based on a “specific seclusion term … to uniquely describe a person, entity or account.” But the bill now defines the term as something that “limit[s] the scope of the information or tangible things sought.” That revision could justify the data collection of, say, a whole city. Jacob Sullum at Reason Magazine explains: “As Deputy Attorney General James Cole explained last year, ‘If you’re looking for the needle in the haystack, you have to have the entire haystack to look through.’ Given the definition of ‘specific selection term’ demanded by the administration, that requirement could amount to nothing more than leaving behind a few pieces of straw.” More…

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