Today, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced the USA FREEDOM Act, a bill that would place restrictions on bulk phone and internet government surveillance, and permit companies to make public the number of FISA orders and National Security Letters received. This bicameral piece of legislation would rewrite section 215 of the Patriot Act—also called the “library provision”—and impose new limits on section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
The bill would also require the government itself to make additional disclosures about the intelligence surveillance it conducts. The legislation would also establish a process for declassifying significant opinions issued by the FISA Court and create an Office of the Special Advocate charged with protecting privacy at the FISA Court.
As of this writing, the legislation appears to have a high level of bipartisan support from both chambers—according to a statement from Sen. Leahy, the bill has more than 70 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and 16 cosponsors in the Senate. Many of the cosponsors, including legislators Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Lee Terry, (R-NE), voted “no” on the defeated Amash amendment in July.
Help put a stop to warrantless surveillance. Please ask both your U.S. representative and senators to cosponsor this important legislation. If they have, please call and thank them for bringing more transparency and oversight to these spying programs.
Take action link: http://capwiz.com/ala/callalert/index.tt?alertid=62983561
Text of legislation: https://www.leahy.senate.gov/download/usa-freedom-act_-introduced-10-29-131
This Saturday, October 26th, on the 12th anniversary of the signing of the USA PATRIOT Act, StopWatching.us, a coalition of over 100 advocacy organizations and individuals across the political spectrum (including the American Library Association) will host the largest rally against against NSA surveillance in Washington, DC. Beginning at 12PM, in front of Union Station, marchers will deliver more than a half-million petitions to Congress during the rally to remind Congressional representatives that mass surveillance is unacceptable and should be stopped. For more information on joining the rally, check out Stop Watching Us coalition website at rally.stopwatching.us.
Libraries and individuals unable to join the rally can continue to work on behalf of privacy rights by participating in Choose Privacy Week. Sponsored by the American Library Association, the fifth annual Choose Privacy Week will take place May 1–7, 2014, and provide an opportunity for libraries to educate and engage users about privacy and surveillance issues. For more information go to chooseprivacyweek.org.
Support is growing for the Amash Amendment, a proposal by Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) that would halt funding for the National Security Agency’s (NSA) warrantless collection of phone records for all persons in the United States under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. The legislation would amend the Defense Appropriations Bill so that the NSA could only use court orders issued pursuant to Section 215 to collect phone records on individuals who are the actual subject of a terrorism or espionage investigation.
Below are the organizations that have issued a statement of support for the Amash amendment:
ACLU letter of Support
ACLU Myths and Facts on Section 215
Center For National Security Studies
Association of Research Libraries
Campaign for Liberty
Center for Democracy and Technology
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
The Constitution Project
Your immediate support is crucial: the amendment is likely to come up for debate and a vote today, Wednesday, July 24.