GOP presidential candidate and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been a particularly vocal advocate for the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance program, and on Tuesday he said he believes the NSA should have increased spying powers in order to combat “evildoers.”
Bush criticized the changes that were made to the NSA’s authority when the U.S. passed the USA Freedom Act after the Patriot Act expired in June. He also said he disagreed with the argument that the NSA collected bulk data records from innocent Americans violates their constitutionally protected privacy rights.
“There’s a place to find common ground between personal civil liberties and NSA doing its job,” Bush said. “I think the balance has actually gone the wrong way.”
In May, a federal appeals court ruled that NSA data collection is illegal, stating that Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which was used to justify the program, “cannot bear the weight the government asks us to assign to it, and that it does not authorize the telephone metadata program.”
Section 215 expired on June 1, and after lengthy debate in the Senate on whether the NSA should continue its illegal surveillance, the USA Freedom Act was passed on June 2. The USA Freedom Act changes the channels the government has to go through to collect Americans’ records by transferring bulk data collection records from the NSA, to private companies.
While the USA Freedom Act was supposed to end NSA’s bulk data collection, the Department of Justice submitted a request to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court asking the Court to reinstate the NSA’s collection for the next six months, and to ignore the ruling from the Federal Appeal’s Court. The FISA court approved the request, and allowed NSA data collection through November 29, 2015.
On Tuesday, Bush also criticized private technology companies for encrypting their products in an attempt to make it harder for the NSA to gain access.