A bipartisan coalition of US lawmakers have introduced a new bill that would protect Americans’ rights against unnecessary government surveillance.
The Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act, introduced by US Senator Roy Wyden, D-Ore, will reform section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and prevent abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The bill comes ahead of the March 15 expiration of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, which is used by the NSA to “create a secret mass surveillance program that swept up millions of Americans’ phone calls.”
The bill includes a host of reforms including:
- Permanently ending the flawed phone surveillance program which had been secretly scooping up Americans’ telephone records for years.
- Prohibiting the warrantless collection of cell site location, GPS information, browsing history and internet search history, thus ensuring the government cannot conduct collection for intelligence purposes that would violate the Fourth amendment in the criminal context.
- Responding to issues raised by the Inspector General’s office by ensuring independent attorneys, known as amici, have access to all documents, records and proceedings of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to provide more oversight and transparency.
- Closing loopholes and prohibiting secret interpretation of the law, like those that led to unconstitutional warrantless surveillance programs.
“Liberty and security aren’t mutually exclusive, and they aren’t partisan either,” Sen. Wyden said in a statement. “I’m proud our bipartisan coalition is standing up for Americans’ rights and commonsense reforms to protect our people against unnecessary government surveillance.”
“We must stop sacrificing the civil liberties our Constitution guarantees in the name of national security. We must stop spying on our own citizens without probable cause, without legal and limited warrants, and without any transparency or accountability” said Rep. Jayapal.
“By ending the unconstitutional collection of Americans’ international communications and reforming Section 215 of the Patriot Act, this bipartisan bill protects the privacy and civil rights of Americans.”
The bill is a major step forward in protecting people from surveillance by government authorities, as this type of warrantless surveillance impacts the most vulnerable communities.
“While surveillance in the U.S. has always focused on people of color and protesters, Trump has proven to be a unique threat to the most vulnerable communities and this is a crucial step to check these dangerous powers. We applaud Senators Wyden and Daines and Representatives Lofgren, Davidson and Jayapal for introducing this important legislation,” said Free Press Action Government Relations Director Sandra Fulton.
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