The U.S. Congress has just signed a bill into law, H.R. 4681 – The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015, that for the first time provides Congressional consent to U.S. intelligence agencies as they collect and store the private phone and internet communications of everyday U.S. citizens without a court order under a little known Executive Order 12333.
On the surface, H.R. 4681 looks like just another annual funding bill for the U.S. intelligence community. However, in Section 309, the Executive Branch is given the awesome power of collecting and storing of any and all “nonpublic” (which is the Federal’ government’s way of saying: “private”) American telephone or electronic communications, with no express Congressional oversight. (This particular surveillance is covered under Executive Order 12333 — not Section 215 of the Patriot Act, meaning it has practically no oversight.)