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Government Surveillance

Senate Republicans Block NSA Reform 

Tonight Senate Republicans blocked a vote to proceed with debate on the USA FREEDOM Act, which aimed to end the NSA nationwide bulk collection and enact a number of other key surveillance reforms.

“Congress failed to put the interest of the average American first today. Instead of finally reining in the NSA’s surveillance programs, they opted to further block meaningful action,” said CDT President Nuala O’Connor. “Blocking the USA FREEDOM Act guarantees that the NSA’s domestic mass surveillance programs will continue for at least another six months, and potentially much longer.”

Congress will now be forced to address bulk collection next year, with Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act set to expire on June 1, 2015. The House of Representatives has taken a number of votes demonstrating broad support for restricting surveillance, and Senators such as Rand Paul have already voiced opposition to extending Section 215.

“We do not support extending the PATRIOT Act absent significant reforms that prevent indiscriminate surveillance. This needs to be a top priority for the new Congress at the start of 2015,” said O’Connor. “Both the Senate and the House of Representatives should reject a PATRIOT Act reauthorization that allows for nationwide bulk collection. If Section 215 is not seriously reformed to protect civil liberties, it should sunset.”