A Response to Judge Bates’ Letter on FISA Court Reform

A judge that served on the secretive U.S. court that authorizes U.S. government surveillance issued a letter raising concerns with a new Senate bill to reform NSA surveillance. CDT supports the Senate version of the USA FREEDOM Act, in part because the bill proposes an independent voice for civil liberties at the FISC while preserving flexibility for the court. We believe Judge Bate’s concerns are not compelling reasons to eliminate the FISC reforms in USA FREEDOM.

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Why We Can't Support the New USA Freedom Act

The Center for Democracy & Technology has publicly withdrawn their support of the USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 3361). This is disappointing as many civil liberties groups strongly supported USA FREEDOM since its introduction last year. The major sticking point for is how the bill’s definition of “specific selection term” recently changed in the Rules Committee Manager’s Amendment.

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USA FREEDOM Act Moves Forward

Our favored legislation to reform the NSA’s surveillance programs, the USA FREEDOM Act is finally moving forward. Today, the House Judiciary Committee announced a markup of the USA FREEDOM Act for this Wednesday afternoon. Congressional action on NSA surveillance is long overdue.

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Two Ways the Surveillance Transparency Rules for Companies Are Not Transparent

In response to the public uproar over mass surveillance, and a lawsuit brought by Internet companies, the U.S. government recently established rules to allow companies to report some details on surveillance demands in intelligence investigations. However, the government carefully worded its new rules in a way that still obscures the true scope of surveillance on companies’ users.

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Four Key Reforms for NSA Surveillance

Some degree of government surveillance and secrecy is necessary to protect against national security threats. However, overbroad government power to conduct mass surveillance with minimal transparency threatens Constitutional freedoms and inhibits meaningful public debate. Here are four – but not the only – needed national security surveillance reforms that the Administration and Congress should tackle now.

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