As Marcy Wheeler explains in her latest post over at emptywheel.net, the newest, revised language in House Intelligence Committee Chair Mike Rogers’ USA Freedom Act (HR 3361) gives the NSA exactly what it has wanted all along: an expansion of the parameters of the current NSA domestic phone dragnet to enable the agency to surveil, "correlate" and capture the communications of individuals that aren’t even communicating with NSA targets by phone; and the “two-hops” rule will apply to those communications, too.
So, according to the current language in HR 3361, if you’re sending in an online order for takeout from Pizza Hut, and someone sitting on a park bench next to an NSA “target” in Peoria happens to have ordered food in the same manner from the same Pizza Hut, you just might find yourself on an NSA list. In fact, if you just happened to be walking around with your smartphone in an area within the range of the same cellphone tower as everyone else near that park bench in Peoria, at the same time when the NSA target was sitting there, you would make that same list, too. In other words, HR 3361 dramatically expands the “two hops” rule to include/enable non-telephony communications and surveillance methodologies under the new law(s) as it’s currently written in the USA Freedom Act (HR 3361).
In 2014, this is what our government’s leaders describe as legislation that will “rein in” the powers of the NSA.
Here’s Marcy Wheeler with much more detail (you really should read her entire post to understand the pure deviousness of this captured government charade)…
The “Automated Query” at the Telecoms Will Include “Correlations”(Bold type is diarist's emphasis.)
Published May 16, 2014 | By emptywheel
…In other words this [new] language provides clues about why the IC was willing to outsource the dragnet.
The description of the hops reveals two things that got added to the 3- or 2-hop process the government once described.
First, they’re including “associated metadata” among the things that can be further chained. Even assuming we’re only talking voice telecom information, this would include cell site location on top of the other metadata (and, in the era of smart phones, potentially far, far more).
But in addition, they’re including “connections,” in addition to contacts, with the seed.
That is, you don’t have to ever call a target to be sucked up in the phone dragnet. You can be simply “connected” to that target. The kinds of connections in question surely include dropped burner phones (that is, a matching of phones that call the same pattern of phones as an inactive phone). They may include common geolocation. But — again, given the advent of smart phones — they may include far, far more.
So what this little footnote calls to my attention (thanks, Mike Rogers!) is that they’ve gotten approval for different kinds of chaining, beyond actual phone contacts (remember, this could include Internet contacts over a smart phone). And they’ve included metadata generally, not just phone call records, surely including geolocation, among the things they might chain on.
Which explains one incentive for outsourcing this. They can’t use geolocation for chaining in government hands. They can in private hands. There’s likely far more information for which that is true when you consider smart phones.
They can’t access that information now. They will be able to once HR 3361 outsources everything to the telecoms.
But really, this is about reform.
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For more on this story, checkout my post from yesterday: Marcy Wheeler: USA Freedom Act “Changes Very Little, In Spite of the Broad Promises.”
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