Bringing It Full Fractal
So let's recap what we know. The PATRIOT Act mandates the expansion of federal law enforcement, permits the gathering/storage of data without the usual warrants, and instructs government officials to create centers for data sharing and analysis. The CSEA allows ISPs to send client data to any government agency, where it can be distributed and shared at the local, state, and federal level. To top it off, FISMA requires federal agencies to audit themselves for security risks, develop countermeasures, and implement policies that have to be followed throughout the agency. Even if we disregard Title 28 U.S.C Sec. 534 (which authorizes the FBI's fingerprinting and facial recognition database programs) what additional power could the Obama administration want from Congress?
Current legislation allows the federal government either passively to collect information on Americans via ISPs or actively collect it as a part of an investigation into acts of terrorism which its agents retain the sole authority to define. Also keep in mind that the CSEA and Title II of the PATRIOT Act allow ISPs to collect and send the electronic identification numbers of the devices used in their surveillance operations. Every personal computer, smartphone, and tablet computer contains and uses identification information that can be uncovered with network mapping tools and used to monitor activity on the device itself. In effect, the federal government could monitor the movements or activities of anyone possessing an internet-capable device and such action could be conducted, if federal law enforcement felt it appropriate to protecting national security.
There were several proposals the president outlined that are more than worthwhile uses of time and government capital, but on the matter of information security the government needs no greater authority from Congress. If anything, Congress should endeavor to dismantle sections of the PATRIOT Act and CSEA that enable clandestine, intrusive surveillance of American citizens and devise safeguards against information gathering without probable cause.