House Judiciary Democrats Laud Senator Leahy's Introduction Of The USA Freedom Act
Washington, DC, July 29, 2014
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For Immediate Release: July 29, 2014
House Judiciary Democrats Laud Senator Leahy's Introduction of the USA FREEDOM Act
Today, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced a Senate version of H.R. 3361, the USA FREEDOM Act, which ends domestic bulk collection and reforms the government’s surveillance of United States citizens. On May 22, 2014, the House of Representatives passed the USA FREEDOM Act by a vote of 302-121. Senator Leahy’s version of the bill includes a new definition of “specific selection term” that addresses many of the concerns aimed at the House-passed compromise legislation.
“Senator Leahy’s introduction of the USA FREEDOM Act reinforces our commitment to protecting the civil liberties and rights of all Americans. This critical legislation will end domestic bulk data collection and increase much-needed oversight of intelligence-gathering programs, while ensuring that our national security remains intact. Enactment of this legislation would constitute the first significant rollback of any aspect of government surveillance since passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. The House passed its version of the bill in May. It is important that the Senate take the next step and pass this legislation without delay.”
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Below are key provisions of H.R. 3361 as passed by the House of Representatives on May 22, 2014:
Prohibits Bulk Collection of Data: The bill protects Americans’ privacy by ending the bulk collection of Americans’ business records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, such as telephone and electronic communications records, among many others. The bill also prohibits bulk collection under other national security authorities.
New Process for Obtaining Call Records: The USA FREEDOM Act makes clear that the government cannot indiscriminately acquire Americans’ records and creates a new process for the collection of call detail records. Specifically, the bill requires that these call detail records can only be collected on an ongoing case-by-case basis after approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The FISC is authorized to allow up to two “hops.”
Protects Americans’ Privacy: The bill codifies current minimization procedures, requiring the government to minimize the acquisition and prohibit the retention and dissemination of information about Americans. Additionally, it prohibits the government from using unlawfully obtained information about Americans acquired outside the scope of court-approved procedures.
Ensures Robust Oversight of Intelligence-Gathering Programs: The bill increases oversight of our intelligence-gathering programs by providing for judicial review of minimization procedures for the production of business records.
Increases Transparency of Intelligence-Gathering Programs: The bill creates a panel of legal experts to help ensure the FISA court adequately considers privacy concerns and Constitutional rights of Americans and also requires the director of National Intelligence and the attorney general to conduct a declassification review of each decision, order, or opinion of the FISA court that includes a significant construction or interpretation of the law. The bill requires the government to disclose the number of requests made for call detail records and requires the administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to publicly report annually the number of FISA orders issued, modified, or denied by the FISC.
Allows American Tech Companies to Disclose FISA Orders: Last year’s national security leaks have also had a commercial and financial impact on American technology companies that have provided these records. They’ve experienced backlash from both American and foreign consumers and they’ve lost their competitive edge in the global marketplace. In January of this year, the Justice Department entered into a settlement with several companies to permit new ways to report data concerning requests for customer information under FISA. The USA FREEDOM Act builds upon this settlement, allowing tech companies to inform their American and foreign customers by publicly reporting national security requests.