New Freedom Act could reform PATRIOT Act

Today, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced the USA FREEDOM Act, a bill that would place restrictions on bulk phone and internet government surveillance, and permit companies to make public the number of FISA orders and National Security Letters received. This bicameral piece of legislation would rewrite section 215 of the Patriot Act–also called the “library provision”–and impose new limits on section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

The bill would also require the government itself to make additional disclosures about the intelligence surveillance it conducts. The legislation would also establish a process for declassifying significant opinions issued by the FISA Court and create an Office of the Special Advocate charged with protecting privacy at the FISA Court.

As of this writing, the legislation appears to have a high level of bipartisan support from both chambers–according to a statement from Sen. Leahy, the bill has more than 70 bipartisan cosponsors in the House and 16 cosponsors in the Senate. Many of the cosponsors, including legislators Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Lee Terry, (R-NE), voted “no” on the defeated Amash amendment in July.

Help put a stop to warrantless surveillance. Please ask both your U.S. representative and senators to cosponsor this important legislation. If they have, please call and thank them for bringing more transparency and oversight to these spying programs.

About Lynne Bradley

Lynne works in the ALA Washington Office and is director of ALA's Office of Government Relations.

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