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If this is true, the silver lining is that it could become an albatross around the Patriot Act; spying on browser history is not a defensible means of preventing terrorism without absurd arguments.

But hold up. Has anyone read the bill?

I haven't read the full text of the bill, but reading the summary [1], parts of the bill actually sound positive to me:

> The Federal Bureau of Investigation may not seek certain FISA-authorized orders to obtain (1) call detail records on an ongoing basis, (2) a tangible thing where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would typically be required, or (3) cellular or GPS location information.

> In applications for certain FISA-authorized orders to obtain information or conduct surveillance, the applicant must certify that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has received any information that might raise doubts about the application. The bill imposes additional requirements on FISA-authorized orders targeting a (1) U.S. person, or (2) federal elected official or candidate.

> The bill increases criminal penalties for violations related to electronic surveillance conducted under color of law or false statements made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court).

> The bill broadens the criteria for when a FISA court decision shall be declassified and requires the declassification review and release of such opinions within 180 days of an opinion being issued.

> The bill broadens the FISA court's authority to appoint an amicus curiae (an outside party that assists in consideration of a case) and expands such amici's powers, such as the power to ask the court to review a decision.

> Each agency that submits applications to the FISA court shall appoint an officer responsible for compliance with FISA requirements.

Looking at the full text of the bill, I can't find where there is authorization for tracking browser history without a warrant. Can anyone pinpoint that in the actual text of the bill?

[1] https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6172

After reviewing the summary, full text, and the article, I also missed the authorization for tracking browser history without a warrant.

After making the claim, the article mostly seems an opinion piece; there doesn't seem to be a substantiation of the lede.

As an aside, Cybernews is a new resource to me; while the author of the article seems a well-established technology writer, Cybernews itself is absent a masthead. All I could discern is that it's governed by the laws of the Republic of Lithuania; not much else to go on wrt their values, opinion stance, etc.

Here's the amendment that was rejected.


> On page 7, strike lines 13 and 14 and insert the following: cell site location or global positioning system information. ``(C) An application under paragraph (1) may not seek an order authorizing or requiring the production of internet website browsing information or internet search history information.''.

From memory of articles surrounding this, it was the failure to add a provision preventing warrantless tracking that was scandalous. It is unclear to me if that implies some court decision that allows it without that preventative measure.

This article[1] does a good job at explaining why many people were pushing for the bill to explicity clarify that browser history was not among the ambiguous "content" that could be surveilled without a warrant.

The undefined scope of “content” along with the expanded scope of power given to the Attorney General (and taken away from the already constitutionally dubious FISA court) was the source of the recent controversy surrounding the reauthorization of Section 215.


It's because the amendment was never to authorize spying on browser history, it was an amendment to BLOCK it which was voted down for being a distraction and potentially limit FISA spying in other ways.

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