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Government Surveillance

Victory: Passage of USA FREEDOM Act Reins in NSA Surveillance

Today the US Senate passed the USA FREEDOM Act without amendment, and the bill is now set to be signed into law by the President.

“This is a generational win for privacy and transparency,” said CDT President & CEO Nuala O’Connor. “We’ve successfully restricted government surveillance, protecting the privacy of Americans and strengthening transparency, while preserving our national security. The era of casually dismissing mass surveillance as unimportant to liberty is over – even in Congress.”

When signed into law, the bill will end nationwide bulk collection of records about Americans under Section 215 and other provisions of the PATRIOT Act. The bill will also enact important transparency laws – including more government reporting requirements on the extent of surveillance, new permissions for companies to report the number of surveillance orders they receive, and a requirement that the government declassify significant FISA Court opinions (or release detailed summaries of the opinions).

See CDT’s chart detailing the USA FREEDOM Act here.

“Passage of the USA FREEDOM Act is the most significant national security surveillance reform measure in the past three decades,” said CDT Advocacy Director Harley Geiger, “but the bill does not solve all the problems with surveillance. Congress should swiftly turn to ending warrantless law enforcement access to Americans’ emails by updating the Electronic Privacy Communications Act, as well as overhauling Sec. 702 of FISA to strengthen the privacy of Americans and non-US persons alike.”

See CDT’s primer on ECPA reform here.

See CDT’s initial reform proposals for Sec. 702 of FISA here.

“It took many hands to get the USA FREEDOM Act over the finish line,” Geiger added, “but Senators Leahy, Lee, and Wyden and Representatives Conyers, Sensenbrenner, Goodlatte, and Nadler deserve special credit.”