Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 23, 2014

Posts in "Surveillance"

November 19, 2014

Senate Rejects Moving Forward on Surveillance Bill, What’s Next?

The Senate voted against moving forward with a surveillance overhaul bill Tuesday evening and CQ Roll Call’s Steven Dennis has the recap.

Dennis writes:

Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., voted to block the bill, which came just two votes shy of the 60 needed to come to the floor for debate.

The 58-42 vote fell largely along party lines, with a handful of Republicans (Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Dean Heller, R-Nev., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska) breaking from their party to vote in favor of invoking cloture (cutting off debate) on a motion to consider the bill by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt. Bill Nelson of Florida was the only Democrat who voted in opposition.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., voted in opposition because it would have extended certain expiring provisions of the Patriot Act. “In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Americans were eager to catch and punish the terrorists who attacked us,” he said in a statement. “I, like most Americans, demanded justice. But one common misconception is that the Patriot Act applies only to foreigners—when in reality, the Patriot Act was instituted precisely to widen the surveillance laws to include U.S. citizens.”

CQ Roll Call’s Rob Margetta reports (subscription) that Tuesday’s vote likely pushes any possible action on the National Security Agency’s domestic bulk phone metadata collection to the next Congress, adding that:

With Congress now extremely unlikely to take action in the lame duck, lawmakers will have to act on surveillance before June 2015, when Section 215 statutory language — which even some privacy advocates say contains important surveillance authorities — would expire.

The New York Times looks at the lay of the land for next year:

But Tuesday’s vote only put off until next year a debate over security and personal liberties. While a Republican-controlled Senate is less likely to go along with the kinds of reforms that were in the bill, which sponsors had named the U.S.A. Freedom Act, the debate could further expose rifts between the party’s interventionist and more libertarian-leaning wings.

The new Congress will also be working against a hard deadline because the legal authority for the data collection will expire next year.

The Washington Post reports that the “failure to pass legislation before next year could pose hurdles for the GOP” and writes that it will also be a challenge for the Obama administration.

November 18, 2014

Key Senate Vote Today on Surveillance Overhaul Legislation

The Senate is slated to take a crucial vote on surveillance overhaul legislation later today and as CQ Roll Call’s Rob Margetta writes (subscription), privacy advocates and bill supporters are making one last push.

Margetta reports:

But even supporters worry that the vote is likely to be a close one, and if the bill fails in this session they’re not sure whether it will revived next year.

As a reminder, this isn’t a final vote on the bill. It’s technically a vote whether to invoke cloture (cut off debate) on a motion to take up the bill sponsored by Sen. Patrick. J. Leahy, D-Vt.

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November 17, 2014

The Week Ahead: Sports Blackouts, Intellectual Property and Smart Phone Encryption

It’s a busy week in Washington with several congressional hearings including one on sports blackouts and events on intellectual property and smart phone encryption.

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November 14, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: Net Neutrality, Surveillance Overhaul Legislation & Drones

Net neutrality, surveillance overhaul legislation and drones are in your weekly wrap-up.

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Friday Q&A: Pepperdine University Law Professor Gregory McNeal

456741618 445x296 Friday Q&A: Pepperdine University Law Professor Gregory McNeal

A drone of the French Gendarmerie during a training drill in southwestern France on October 6, 2014. (Nicolas Tucat/AFP/Getty Images)

Gregory McNeal, a law professor at Pepperdine University School of Law, wrote a paper for The Brookings Institution released Thursday that puts forward a set of proposals for lawmakers on the issue of drones and surveillance. He criticizes state laws that require law enforcement to have warrants when using drones, writing that they will often hinder beneficial and largely non-controversial efforts like drone use by police at marathons to ensure public safety.  And legislative efforts have been targeted at restricting government use of drones, “while largely allowing the government to conduct identical surveillance when not using drone technology,” he writes.  His solution: a “property-centric approach,” that would specify that there are property owners’ rights in the airspace up to 350 feet above land, along with several other measures. Technocrat talked with McNeal about his paper and below is a lightly edited portion of our conversation.

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November 5, 2014

With Udall’s Defeat, Senate Loses Privacy Advocate

udall 267 042914 445x300 With Udalls Defeat, Senate Loses Privacy Advocate

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., arrives in the Capitol for a vote (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Mark Udall lost his re-election bid Tuesday, and CQ Roll Calls’ Rob Margetta reports on the general reaction among some privacy advocates to the Colorado Democrat’s electoral loss and lays out Udall’s role in the Senate as a critic of National Security Agency surveillance programs.

He writes (subscription):

Udall, who lost his seat in Colorado to Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, was one of the most prominent voices in the last session pushing back against National Security Agency surveillance programs. Udall had long expressed reservations about government intrusions, and turned up the public pressure after last year’s disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

More on Udall and what his loss could mean for surveillance overhaul efforts here and here.

November 4, 2014

Oral Arguments In Lawsuit Against NSA Focus on Plaintiffs’ Standing

Do the privacy advocates suing the National Security Agency over its surveillance programs have standing to bring their case forward? That’s basically what a panel of federal appeals court justices repeatedly questioned on Tuesday, according to CQ Roll Call’s Rob Margetta.

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Don’t Forget: CQ Roll Call’s Post Election Impact Conference

It’s Election Day, and here at Technocrat, we’ll be keeping an eye out for the results of the Colorado Senate race, where incumbent Democrat Mark Udall, a critic of the National Security Agency’s surveillance practices, is among Roll Call’s 10 Most Vulnerable Senators list. We’ll also be keeping an eye on the results of the race between incumbent Democrat Mike Honda and Democrat Ro Khanna for California’s 17th congressional district in Silicon Valley.

Oh, and don’t forget: CQ Roll Call’s Post Election Impact Conference is on Thursday, Nov. 6 at the Liason Capitol Hill. CQ Roll Call technology, intelligence and security reporter Rob Margetta will be among the speakers. See below for more info and a code for 20 percent off your registration fee.


CQ Roll Call’s Post Election Impact Conference is next week!  Here are 3 reasons you shouldn’t miss it:

  • Frontline perspective from our keynotes and sessions, including our newest keynote panel with Rob Collins, Executive Director, NRSC and Guy Cecil, Executive Director DSCC
  • Behind-the-scenes revelations into what happened, what’s next and what’s on the horizon for the 114th Congress
  • “You-won’t-hear-it-anywhere-else” insight from our panelists and speakers.  View our newest speakers - including Gov. John Engler, President of the Business Roundtable.

Don’t miss all the insight, perspective and networking next week at CQ Roll Call’s Post Election Impact Conference!


Register today to secure your spot! Use code SUB2014 to receive 20 percent off!

Register now!

October 17, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: Encryption, Patent Office and Robots

FBI Director James B. Comey’s remarks on encryption and law enforcement access to data, the nomination of Michelle K. Lee to head the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and a Q&A on robots and the law were among the highlights from the last few days. Check out the Mid-Week Catchup for happenings from earlier this week.

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October 10, 2014

Weekly Recap: Net Neutrality, Mobile ‘Cramming’ and a Spacewalk

Among the highlights in happenings from the past few days: President Barack Obama talked net neutrality, AT&T Mobility agreed to a $105 million settlement over mobile “cramming” allegations, and an astronaut popular on Twitter took his first spacewalk outside the International Space Station. That and more news highlights as well as some Technocrat posts are below. For happenings from earlier this week, check out the Mid-Week Catchup.

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