The NSA collects data and spies on American citizens, even members of Congress and the government, without getting a specific warrant and in clear violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.
People are outraged that this is happening, and multiple lawsuits have been filed against the NSA to stop their warrantless searches and seizures of phone and computer records. A federal judge has already ruled the NSA spying to be unconstitutional, and another judge has ordered the NSA to preserve everything they have collected, as it is now evidence to be used against them.
Earlier this year, the House began working on a bill that would put strict limits on the NSA and prevent their continued data-mining and warrantless record collecting of American citizens. That bill has well over 100 co-sponsors now.
Now another small victory has been won against the NSA, as an amendment to a defense appropriations bill was overwhelmingly approved that would impose more limits on the NSA, according the The Hill.
Adopted 293-123, with one member voting present, the amendment to the 2015 Defense appropriations bill would prohibit the search of government databases for information on U.S. citizens without a warrant. It would further cut off funding for the CIA and National Security Agency to build security vulnerabilities, or “backdoors,” into domestic tech products or services for surveillance purposes. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) was the only member to vote present.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), the chief sponsor of the bipartisan amendment, said it would limit the controversial NSA spying.
“The American people are sick of being spied on,” Massie said.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), another sponsor of the amendment, said it would uphold the Constitution without infringing upon national security.
“It allows us to get the bad guys, but also says, ‘Use probable cause and the Fourth Amendment,” Lofgren said.
Of course, not every member of Congress was happy with the amendment, or efforts to rein in the NSA overall.
But Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said an appropriations bill was not the proper place for considering the measure.
“Ultimately, while I applaud these members for looking for ways to reform our intelligence gathering, we shouldn’t consider this on an appropriations bill with only 10 minutes of debate,” Ruppersberger said.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) argued the amendment would potentially jeopardize national security by limiting the NSA’s intelligence-gathering activities.
“This amendment would create a blind spot for the intelligence community tracking terrorists with direct connections to the U.S. homeland,” Goodlatte said. “Such an impediment would put American lives at risk of another terrorist attack.”
This is very good news regarding the Constitutional protection of citizen’s privacy and personal information. The NSA should not be broadly sweeping up everybody’s information in order to search for bad guys, and they shouldn’t be searching through anybody’s information without a proper warrant.
It is good to see members of Congress standing up to defend our right to privacy, however little of it we have left these days. Hopefully, more of the lawsuits will find success in court and further legislation will be passed that puts a complete stop to the Big Brother NSA snooping through everybody’s private information, on fishing expeditions for terrorists.