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Wiretapping law's renewal dismays rights groups

Jaikumar Vijayan | Jan. 14, 2013
A last-minute move by the U.S. Senate to renew a controversial wiretapping law, days before it was set to expire on Dec. 31, has dismayed privacy advocates, rights groups and lawmakers who have long opposed the measure.

The problem is that without more transparency there is no way of knowing whether FISA provisions are being interpreted by the court in ways that are different from the language or intent of the statue, Rumold said.

In an interview with the Huffington Post after the Senate vote, Sen. Wyden, a vocal FISA critic, voiced similar concerns. "When the public finds out that these secret interpretations are so dramatically different than what the public law says, I think there's going to be extraordinary anger in the country," Wyden said in comments to the story. "Because it's one thing to have debates about laws... but we assume that the law itself is public."

In comments made at this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Wyden reiterated his previous commitment to fight for new accountability measures for ensuring the law will not be abused. "We will win this," Wyden said in comments made to reporters at the show and independently confirmed by Computerworld via his press office. "It's not a question of 'are we,' but 'when'?" he said.

After the vote to renew the bill the ACLU expressed hope that the growing calls in the Senate to make the FISA Amendments Act more transparent would result in some changes.

"Close to half of the Senate is on record demanding disclosure, and that should only help efforts to get basic information about how our rights are affected [by FISA,]" the ACLU said in a statement.


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