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Government Surveillance

CDT Supports New Bipartisan House Bill on Surveillance Transparency, the “Surveillance Order Reporting Act”

On the heels of the introduction of the “Surveillance Transparency Act” in the Senate, a bipartisan coalition in the House of Representatives led by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren has just introduced its own bill pressing for more transparency around government demands to Internet and telephone companies about their users data. As with the bill in the Senate, the Center for Democracy & Technology supports the “Surveillance Order Reporting Act” as an important first step toward enacting all of the surveillance transparency reforms that a CDT-led coalition of privacy advocates and Internet companies recently pressed for in their joint letter to Congress. (bill text; bill summary).

“Although it does not yet contain all of the reforms that we privacy advocates have pressed for alongside companies such as Apple, Google and Microsoft, the Center for Democracy & Technology strongly supports the ‘Surveillance Transparency Act’ as an important first step toward achieving meaningful transparency reform,” said CDT Senior Counsel and Free Expression Director Kevin Bankston. “This bill is a significant improvement over the current laws that wholly gags companies like Yahoo!, Facebook and Twitter from saying how many ‘National Security Letters’ or ‘PATRIOT Act Section 215’ orders or other demands for user data they receive. It would allow a great deal more transparency reporting by the companies than is currently allowed.”

Bankston continued, “We thank the sponsors of the ‘Surveillance Order Reporting Act’ and look forward to working with them to ensure that the American people have the basic level of information necessary to have an informed debate about how best to reform our nation’s surveillance laws.”

To speak with someone from CDT on this issue, contact Brian Wesolowski at [email protected], 202.407.8814.