Bruce Schneier briefs US Congress on the NSA

Well known cryptographer and computer security expert Bruce Schneier has been called in to brief six members of the US Congress.

The group, consisting of Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Jim Sensenbrenner, Bobby Scott, Bob Goodlatte, Mike Thompson, and Justin Amash, met with Schneier without the presence of staffers or members of the public.

“Lofgren asked me to brief her and a few Representatives on the NSA. She said that the NSA wasn’t forthcoming about their activities, and they wanted me — as someone with access to the Snowden documents — to explain to them what the NSA was doing,” Schneier shared on Thursday.

Beside being a cryptography expert Schneier is also a vocal privacy advocate. He is one of the few people that have had access to the documents that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exfiltrated from the agency’s networks.

He has been steadily sharing discoveries about documented NSA surveillance activities and capabilities with the world both on his blog and The Guardian news site, and has also written articles about it for a series of mainstream and security publications.

“Of course I’m not going to give details on the meeting, except to say that it was candid and interesting. And that it’s extremely freaky that Congress has such a difficult time getting information out of the NSA that they have to ask me,” he commented. “I really want oversight to work better in this country.”

As he pointed out, these are all Representatives that “want to rein in the NSA”.

Sensenbrenner introduced the USA FREEDOM Act (summary) to the US House of Representatives. The act was cosponsored by – among others – Lofgren, Scott and Amash.

Amash has also tried (and failed) to amend the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2014 to curtail funding for NSA’s collection of electronic communication data in cases where the subject is not a subject of a specific investigation.

Nevertheless, it is good to see that some members of the US Congress are trying to get a balanced view about NSA activities, especially when US President Obama is not expected to reign in the NSA as much as many would wish.

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