recommended reading

Boehner Supports End to NSA Mass Surveillance

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

House Speaker John Boehner indicated Wednesday that he plans to allow a vote on legislation that would end the National Security Agency's controversial practice of collecting records on millions of U.S. phone calls.

"The bill represents the start of a bipartisan conversation about how we maintain our capabilities to thwart attacks, while addressing privacy and civil-liberties concerns that many Americans have," Boehner said at a press conference. "And so I expect that part of this effort will include the end of the government holding on to bulk data. And, ultimately, I'm hopeful that bipartisan cooperation will lead to results that all sides can support--and, most importantly, keep America safe."

Beohner is supporting a bill introduced Wednesday by Reps. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Dutch Ruppersberger, the panel's top Democrat. The lawmakers are fierce defenders of the NSA, and their bill now represents the more moderate legislative approach for reforming the NSA.

Under their legislation, the vast database of phone records would stay in the hands of the phone companies. The NSA could force the phone companies to turn over particular records, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court would review the NSA orders after the fact.

The legislation is expected to be similar to a proposal that President Obama will outline later this week. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner are still pushing a more aggressive bill to rein in the NSA's power. Their bill, the USA Freedom Act, would raise the standard that the NSA would need to meet to access the phone data and curb other programs, such as Internet surveillance of people in other countries.

Boehner appeared to be skeptical of any proposals that would be more aggressive in expanding privacy rights than the Rogers-Ruppersberger legislation.

"As you know, I've long said these programs exist to save American lives--and they have. And while there are some valid privacy concerns, it would be irresponsible to end these programs before we have a credible alternative," Boehner said.

The NSA maintains that the bulk phone data collection is authorized under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. If Congress doesn't act before June 1, 2015, that provision will expire, and the program will have to end entirely.

Threatwatch Alert

Network intrusion / Spear-phishing

Researchers: Bank-Targeting Malware Sales Rise in Dark Web Markets

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.