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Government Surveillance

CDT Supports Improved Version of USA FREEDOM Act

Today Senator Patrick Leahy introduced a new version of the USA FREEDOM Act, which the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) strongly supports. This bill directly addresses many issues identified by CDT immediately after passage of the problematic House version of the bill, and includes many changes that CDT specifically recommended. Notably, the Senate bill prohibits bulk collection and creates new safeguards to limit large-scale surveillance of Americans. It also gives private parties greater ability to report on surveillance orders received and establishes a panel of external experts tasked with protecting privacy and civil liberties at the FISA Court.

See CDT’s comparison of the House and Senate versions of USA FREEDOM here.

“This new version of the USA FREEDOM Act would be a significant step forward in protecting Americans from unnecessary and intrusive NSA surveillance,” said CDT President and CEO Nuala O’Connor. “This legislation is a major improvement over the version that passed the House in June. The bill would end bulk collection and enact other important reforms, while also providing government with the necessary flexibility to protect national security. We encourage the Senate to pass this bill as is, and the House to quickly follow suit without weakening the bill.”

On other specific improvements to the bill, CDT’s Senior Counsel Harley Geiger said: “The Senate bill adds new back-end privacy protections such as new procedures requiring destruction of information about people not under investigation, and the bill provides private parties with significantly greater ability to publicly report on surveillance orders they receive. Still, there are many issues related to overbroad national security surveillance that this bill does not address, such as reform of surveillance under Section 702 of FISA and Executive Order 12333, and the undermining of encryption standards.”