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>PATRIOT Act tracker for "fast changes"

12/02/2009

>c/o EFFector >> WIRED.com

Confused by all the proposed changes to the Patriot Act ricocheting through the Capitol? The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) has put together a handy chart comparing the current law with the various amendments in the House and Senate.

The chart compares proposed amendments (.pdf) to National Security Letters (NSLs) and the so-called “lone wolf” provisions of the Patriot Act. The proposals have only been passed by the judiciary committees, and face further amendments before they hit the full House and Senate for votes.

According to Gregory Nojeim, CDT’s director of project on freedom, security and technology, although neither of the current proposals goes far enough in fixing all of the problems that civil libertarians find in the Patriot Act, they do show improvements.

“There’s no doubt that the legislation that emerges from this process and goes to the president will have additional civil liberties protections,” he told Threat Level. “It will certainly fix the gag order provision that comes with NSLs, to bring it in line with the Constitution. It will certainly have more reports to Congress and audits to ensure more transparency in the use of key Patriot Act powers.”

He notes that the House bill is the better of the two bills, since it would allow the “lone wolf” surveillance provision — which the Justice Department says has never been used — to expire at the end of this year. It also offers a standard for NSLs that is slightly more strict than the Senate version and imposes a December 2013 sunset on NSL authority that would roll back their usage to what was allowed prior to the passage of the Patriot Act.

NSLs are written demands from the FBI that compel internet service providers, credit companies, financial institutions and others to hand over confidential records about their customers, such as subscriber information, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, websites visited and more. :::MORE HERE:::

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