Compliance Management, Government Regulations, Privacy

Black Hat 2015: USA Freedom Act sparks debate

Mark Jaycox, legislative analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Jamil Jafger, former Republican Chief Counsel and Senior Advisor, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, squared off at Black Hat USA 2015 in a friendly, but sometime lively, debate on the recently passed USA Freedom Act.

Jaycox calked the legislation "a small step, but an important step" for privacy advocates and citizens because it "narrows government surveillance authority."

Passage of the Act proved that "we can have a sustained, coordinated campaign and [get] something through congress."

But Jaffer, who would have preferred that Section 215 authority of the USA PATRIOT Act that expired June 1 remain intact, said USA Freedom isn't robust enough to fight the rising threat of ISIS and other terrorist groups and sets the United States back behind the efforts of other countries.

"USA Freedom takes one tool off the table when other government's are going in the opposite direction in response to surveillance," said Jaffer, who is currently vice president for strategy & business development at IronNet Cybersecurity.

What's more, he contended, it "entrenches" the notion that "government can collect and process data."

Arguing that metadata is only used as "confirmatory," Jaffer said it isn't used to spy on Americans.

However, Jaycox said that USA Freedom shows that widespread government surveillance is not acceptable and expects it will be built upon going forward. 

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