House passes flawed USA FREEDOM Act; summer fight looms in Senate

By a vote of 303 – 121, the House of Representatives today passed a version of the USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 3361) intended to end the “dragnet”-style collection of Americans’ phone records by the government, but which even many of its principal authors and sponsors acknowledged did not go far enough to protect citizens’ privacy. As a result, the American Library Association and many of its coalition partners issued strong statements acknowledging that, while this may have been a useful first step on the road to restoring Americans’ privacy lost in the post-911 era, much more needs to be done. ALA President Barbara Stripling said:

The House’s action today sends a clear signal that the wholesale collection of Americans’ phone records in the interest of national security is fundamentally un-American, unacceptable and unlawful. Unfortunately, the version of the USA FREEDOM Act voted on today was just a shadow of the one introduced in the House. ALA calls on the Senate to restore the important privacy protections stripped at the last minute from the House’s bill, and to go further to truly protect all of our civil rights. For our more than 57,000 members, that fight starts today.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has vowed to bring a stronger version of the USA FREEDOM Act before the Committee this summer. Sign up now with ALA’s Legislative Action Center for important alerts on this critical legislation!

About Adam Eisgrau

Adam Eisgrau is a former managing director of the Office of Government Relations.