Today a broad coalition of 51 companies, trade groups, and civil society organizations spanning the political spectrum submitted a letter of opposition to separate leaked proposals from Senators Burr and Feinstein to modify surveillance laws in the wake of the Senate narrowly voting down the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015. Both proposals would extend PATRIOT Act authorities without ending domestic bulk collection or providing critical FISA Court transparency, while giving the government new powers to require private companies retain user data to aid surveillance.
“Neither proposal would end bulk collection nor shed light on secret interpretations of surveillance laws, and both bills would lead to new retention requirements for Americans’ phone records.” said CDT Advocacy Director and Senior Counsel Harley Geiger. “These proposals are not compromises – they are nonstarters in the face of strong public demand to end PATRIOT Act bulk collection. The proposals would undo much of the House of Representative’s work in passing the USA FREEDOM Act earlier this month.”
The Senate, which has not yet passed any legislation regarding Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, is set to return to session on Sunday afternoon. Section 215 is set to sunset at 12:00 am on June 1 – before the House is scheduled to return to session – if the Senate does not approve the House passed version of USA FREEDOM of 2015.