Bloggers Unite Against FISA Bill

Since the Senate approved the new FISA bill, the blogosphere has been in a state of upheaval, declaring it an infringement on the Bill of Rights. NPR recently reported that liberal and conservative bloggers have joined forces to oppose the legislation by raising money to launch ads against those Congressmen who supported it. The rewrite of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which grants retroactive immunity to telephone companies which cooperated with the NSA’s post-9/11 domestic spy program, has received widespread opposition from the online community for allotting “the president too much power to tap into private communications without court oversight.”

Reminiscent of complaints from the Brazilian blogosphere about Brazil’s new cybercrime bill, American bloggers across the political spectrum remain skeptical of Congressmen’s claims that protecting citizens is the FISA bill’s primary purpose. Many bloggers have expressed their disappointment in Democrats’ decision to give in to the legislation, which has caused an online rift among Obama supporters who urged the senator to “get FISA right” on his website.

FISA has raised concerns in the civil liberty community about how much information government surveillance technology, such as filters and data searches, will collect. The ACLU implored a no vote on the bill and listed several talking points against it, including that it “permits the government to conduct mass, untargeted surveillance of all communications coming into and out of the United States, without any individualized review, and without any finding of wrongdoing.”Government representatives, too, have echoed these fears. In his interview with Amy Goodman from DemocracyNow! Senator Russ Feingold found the bill to be “one of the greatest intrusions, potentially, on the rights of Americans protected under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution in the history of our country.”

The FISA debate continues to intensify the dialogue surrounding the relationship between ever-evolving electronic surveillance technologies, government transparency and liability, and how we define privacy and individual citizen rights in the digital age.