Sunset Section 215

September 26, 2019

We have another chance to end this intrusive surveillance!

I got an e-mail from’ action team, calling on supporters to contact our Congressional representatives in yet another attempt to shut down the so-called PATRIOT Act’s Section 215 surveillance authorization.  Here is what they have to say about this bill, passed in panic after Sept. 11, 2001.

Since 2001, a critical section of the Patriot Act has allowed the government to collect an astonishing amount of sensitive data about the daily lives of people who live in the United States. And now Congress is debating whether to reauthorize Section 215 and cement the Trump administration’s ability to spy on people without a warrant.

We can’t let this happen. Tell your member of Congress to shut down Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

As Edward Snowden revealed, Section 215 allows the government to collect incredibly sensitive information like our phone calls, location data, medical records and financial transactions. Everyone’s personal data can get swept up in Section 215. But we’re not all being surveilled equally.

Mass surveillance is racist in its impact. Instead of targeting the increasing threat of violent white supremacy, the NSA and other federal agencies likely use Section 215 to collect bulk data on Muslim communities, Black political activists and immigrants of color — all without needing to use a warrant or show probable cause.

And right now Congress might buckle to Trump’s demand to make this invasive surveillance authority permanent.

NOTE: this is worse than ever; past reauthorizations were time-limited, which is why we have another chance to sunset this. The current occupant of the people’s White House wants to further his racist agenda by making this extreme government surveillance permanent.

More from FreePressAction:

Leaks in the last month have revealed that the FBI lied about the extent of its tracking of Black activists and was covering up a program called IRON FIST that it created to target and infiltrate racial-justice groups.1 And more recently, news broke that the FBI is treating groups that are protesting the administration’s abhorrent immigration policies at the U.S. border as “extremist organizations.”2 Congress shouldn’t reauthorize these vast spying powers while the FBI is surveilling activists and trying to disrupt the fight for racial justice.

These developments are alarming: We can’t allow government agencies to use sweeping surveillance authorities to go after anyone who opposes the Trump administration’s inhumane policies.

Tell your member of Congress to shut down Section 215 of the Patriot Act for good.

One of GetFISARight’s last conference calls was watching Congress reauthorize Section 215 back in, I believe, 2013 or 2015. Let’s do better this time!

GPS Privacy Legislation after the PATRIOT Act

November 26, 2016

This post is more a request for information than a provision of same.

I was discussing cell-phone privacy, and a friend mentioned that since the World Trade Center attacks all cell phones have GPS location devices that are trackable even when off.  I was not sure of the accuracy of that statement (though we all know that the so-called PATRIOT Act was a vast overreaction and overreach), so I went hunting for current law.

I did not find much; I did find a government site from 2014 that had a link to a page about pending legislation; that page was updated 2 months ago (28 Oct. 2016).  Here is the link:

The original page ( also had information on the 2012 Jones decision and on lower-court rulings, including one that required a warrant for GPS-based vehicle trackers (later vacated and to be reheard, according to the site today [26 Nov. 2016]).

I think we have some work to do, between all the other ball-juggling that is happening: Electoral College, vote recounts, proposals for mass registration and deportations, Dakota Access water-protector repression, racist appointments, etc.  Already, many folks are talking about the need for encrypting e-mails and phone conversations/messages—is that actually useful, or just an illusion because Internet Service Providers give everything to the government, anyway?

Please Sign: An e-mail message from Ron Wyden

October 5, 2016

The group that originally began this Web site/blog was concerned with the expansion of government surveillance outside that allowed by the FISA Court; then-Senator Obama voted in favor of warrantless wiretapping in July 2008, and as his administration closes 8 years later it seems that the FBI is about to get new surveillance abilities. We supported Barack Obama in 2008, drifted away to various degrees by 2012, and largely moved on to individual projects. However, when something related comes up, one of us will pop over here to spread the word. Here is the correspondence from Sen. Wyden:

An obscure committee in the federal bureaucracy recently voted to allow the FBI to hack into your personal devices and access your personal data without obtaining an individual warrant to do so.

The changes approved by the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules to what is known as “Rule 41” would allow the government to get a single warrant to hack into an unlimited number of computers and digital devices owned by law-abiding Americans if their device was merely affected by criminal activity.

This dramatic and constitutionally questionable expansion of the government’s hacking and surveillance authority is poised to go into effect on December 1 – unless Congress acts. Such a change should be debated by Congress in the light of day – not handed down by unelected bureaucrats.

Here is the link to Sen. Wyden’s petition:

Call the Rules Committee Tonight!

June 13, 2016

I got an e-mail from Fight for the Future an hour or two ago (they were still answering the phone when I called), asking for a quick phone call to tell the Congressional Rules Committee, which will be voting on FISA amendments, to take another step toward restoring the privacy that we once had.

Here is the link:; Decide the Future gives the phone number to call, asking that we let the committee know that we support the Massie-Lofgren Amendment to defund mass surveillance under Section 702 of FISA.  The group that created this blog have been asking the president, Congress, anyone who will listen to “GetFISARight” for almost a decade now—through President Obama’s full 8-year administration (we grew out of a My Barack Obama group opposed to the then-senator’s support for warrantless wiretapping in July 2008), so don’t stop now!  Pick up the phone, make the call, and Tweet the link!

Defund the NSA

Protect Our Encryption!

October 8, 2015

There is a petition on asking the president to support strong encryption:
This is an important issue for those who value their privacy, and is approximately 50% to the 100,000 goal needed for a presidentail response.
GetFISARight has a history with these petitions; in our first days, we joined with other groups to reach #5 in the Ideas for Change—scroll down (or use the month menu in the right column) to revisit our glory days—let’s do it again!
These issues still matter—maybe more than ever, with the TPP and related trade agreements being negotiated—so let’s do what we can to push this over the top by the Oct. 30 deadline!

More than 250,000—one-quarter million!

February 17, 2014

So our site did not participate, but I hope that everyone visiting here did—and that we all keep fighting. This from EFF:

So we have been silent. . .

February 12, 2014

. . . but that does not mean that we are not aware of what is happening, fighting on our own. Speaking for myself, I came here a couple of days ago to figure out how to put up the banner for “The Day We Fight Back”, yesterday (ugh!) and failed miserably—tech challenged. My time would have been better spent writing a post, as I am doing now.

The letter that was sent by those who clicked on the links presented in that banner hit on various Internet issues, including our own FISA, but also SOPA, the TPP, etc.

I hope everyone has been following the TPP information—TransPacific Partnership. It seems that, from what has been leaked/reported about these secret negotiations, the main elements of SOPA—the Stop Online Piracy Act that was defeated by public outcry last year—are included in the TPP. This takes it out of U.S.A. jurisdiction, makes it global and gives our government a pass—they can say that their hands are tied, they are just following the international agreement. Please, get involved—there are weekly conference calls on Sundays, “TPP Tuesday” Twitter storms weekly, and probably more where you live.
Yes, we still care—we are also very busy, but let’s all find a bit of time to keep abreast of these issues, and communicate wherever we are.


June 30, 2013

Here we are, about midway between our 5th birthday, June 26, and Independence Day, July 4. This post is overdue, as I have been reflecting on the anniversary just passed despite not getting over here to comment. But what to say?  I’m not feeling very optimistic.  There is not much to applaud in the fact that the president (once the candidate for whom we who cofounded this blog had so much hope) is “not going to scramble jets” to capture a patriot who released data to the United States public, not to an enemy; to know that Bradley Manning’s trial is going on right now, but that details are available only through a very few online sources* (Reader Supported News, FireDogLake, etc.), to see The New York Times call the woman whose coverage they are quoting not a journalist, but an activist, is distressing—no cause for celebration.

Then one hears an interview with the husband of Lynne Stewart, the New York lawyer and activist now in a Texas prison, approved by the Texas warden for compassionate release.  One learns that the paperwork for her release is now held up in Washington, and when her team asks for a more-legible copy on which to make their case, they are brushed off with “go through FoIA [Freedom of Information Act]”.  And one—if lucky—finds in the press (or in a blog’s responsive comment) a mention of James Clapper, who admittedly lied to Congress, on the record—where is Attorney General Eric Holder’s commitment to prosecution?

Finally, one reads speculation on how the press takes its cues from the federal government in their coverage of those who leak information (, which includes the following: “High government officials in Washington routinely leak classified information, as part of turf battles inside the government. . . . That such leaks are so routine, and are part of Washington’s way of doing business, is what makes the harsh espionage charges against people like Edward Snowden so hypocritical. He who is without leaks should cast the first stone.).”

So am I hopeful this year?  No, not very.  However, there are 2 recent posts here that are encouraging—a new group called Restore the 4th has taken up the mantle, with a couple of our own involved.  Let’s make a noise this 4th of July!  Let’s start some meaningful conversations—at the parades, at the picnics, before the fireworks go off, let’s talk about what the holiday really means, beyond  a day off from work midweek and sales at the malls.  Despite understandable criticisms of slavery and limited voter enfranchisement in the 1700s, I prefer to focus on the radical aspects of the events surrounding 4 July 1776, when this country began in revolution against the tyranny of taxation without representation, the “divine right” of kings, and for the “unalienable rights [of] life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.  It is time—well past time!—for our nation to remember and demand that our current government honor its founding principles.

*in contrast to the Watergate hearings in 1974, to which I sat glued every afternoon upon returning home from my college classes

GFR June 16 phone conference

June 19, 2013
 This will be more of a general synopsis of the meeting than the detailed one for the June 12th meeting. Detailed “PiratePad” notes are here; links mentioned during the conversation are gathered here. Please feel free to use comments below to contribute to this conversation! 
Attendees: John Bachir, Sally Gellert, jon pincus, Harry Waisbren, John Quarterman, Jim Burrows, Thomas Nephew
Catching up:  John and Jim updated others on what they’re up to (NSF project on spam; communications systems for first responders, VP of Engineering at Silent Circle, respectively).  Both remain active in writing about and/or being active about surveillance and other issues.

Outreach: Harry is in touch with organizers of ‘I Stand with Edward Snowden‘ rallies in NY. Deciding next steps.  Harry’s suggesting a similar path to what they did with SOPA — NY Tech Meetup getting people involved who wouldn’t be otherwise. Jon went to a few Restore the 4th meetings; a lot of energy, make almost exclusive use of Reddit.  Thomas reported on the MCCRC/Washington Peace Center DC protest (video, some alternative media coverage).

Legislation: Propose we do what we did in the past: discussion on blog about whether we endorse, then phoning / writing congress / etc. 3 bills on the way:

Corporate involvement in problem: FB and Microsoft released full # of government requests, and might be telling the truth. Latest technical speculation is that there’s a meta-data base in addition to PRISM, taking directly from providers; this could provide a lot of info without directly going to the companies. Marcy Wheeler also saw some quotes that show that they are getting this data under some other theory.

Continuing discussion of where could GFR add value: possibilities include… Read the rest of this entry »

GFR June 16 phone conference: NSA link roundup

June 17, 2013

Here are a few links from Sunday evening’s Get FISA Right (GFR) phone conference, compiled from collaborative notes available here.

 News roundups
Activist links