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Will the USA Freedom Act Actually Reform the NSA?

Will this presidential election be the most important in American history?

The House of Representatives voted on the side of civil liberties this week, passing a bill called the USA Freedom Act to end the NSA’s warrantless bulk collection of telephone data on American citizens. But will it be enough?

Legislative Affairs Director Josh Withrow posted an analysis of the issue on the FreedomWorks blog:

[The purpose of the] USA Freedom Act [is] to reform and reauthorize the controversial Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. This portion of the 2001 law was revealed by Edward Snowden to be the legal justification for the massive, nearly limitless collection of American citizens’ telephone metadata by the NSA. Unfortunately, this year’s USA Freedom Act as currently conceived is weaker than previous versions.

The bill does makes some strides forward. For starters, it explicitly bans the true limitless collection of telephone data by forcing the government to use a “specific selection term” (SST) in any surveillance warrant. This SST is defined to prevent the NSA or FBI from scooping up data from an entire service provider (like Verizon or AT&T) or even an entire state, county, or ZIP Code. In this sense, USA Freedom should end bulk collection of phone records, in the sense that the government cannot actually take control of and store this massive quantity of data themselves.

However, the bill merely shifts the procedure to having the government ask companies to query their data for them, and leaves open the possibility that the records searched could still encompass broad ranges of individuals at once. One example is the definition of “persons” under a Specific Selection Term, which is overly broad and can include a corporation as a “person”, which leaves obvious room for broad collection.

Aside from the holes in the policy, the bill stands to face resistance from Republican leadership in the Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Read more of Withrow’s policy analysis here. 

Deneen Borelli

Deneen Borelli is the author of Blacklash: How Obama and the Left are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation. Deneen is a contributor with Newsmax Broadcasting. She is a former Fox News contributor and has appeared regularly on “Hannity,” “Fox & Friends,” “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” and “America’s Newsroom.” She has also appeared on Fox Business Network programs “Making Money with Charles Payne,” “The Evening Edit with Liz MacDonald,” and “Cavuto: Coast to Coast.” Previously, Deneen appeared on MSNBC, CNN, the BBC and C-SPAN. In addition to television, Deneen co-hosted radio programs on the SiriusXM Patriot channel with her husband Tom. Recently, Deneen co-hosted the Reigniting Liberty podcast with Tom. Deneen is a frequent speaker at political events, including the FreedomWorks 9.12.2009 March on D.C. which drew a crowd estimated at over 800,000 people. Deneen is also an Ambassador with, a social media platform that promotes free speech, and with the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) which advances policies that put Americans first. Deneen testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources in May 2011 and before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee in December 2011. Previously, Deneen was a host, Outreach Director with overseeing its outreach program, a Project 21 Senior Fellow, and Manager of Media Relations with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Prior to joining CORE, Deneen worked at Philip Morris USA for 20 years. During her corporate career at Philip Morris she worked in various positions, her last as Project Management Coordinator in the Information Management department where she was responsible for the department’s mandated quality processes, communications, sales information and database management. Deneen began her Philip Morris career as a secretary and advanced to positions of increasing responsibilities. Deneen worked full-time and attended classes at night for 11 years to earn her B.A. in Managerial Marketing from Pace University, New York City. Deneen served on the Board of Trustees with The Opportunity Charter School in Harlem, New York. She appeared in educational videos for children, worked as a runway fashion model, and auditioned for television commercials. Her interests include ancient history, pistol target shooting, photography, and volunteering at her church. Deneen currently resides in Connecticut with her husband Tom.

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