Below is a current checklist of NSA-related legislation introduced in the wake of Edward Snowden’s summer revelations.
- Links like “H.R.####” for each bill lead to the “OpenCongress” summary page for that bill, where you can find the full text, sponsor list, and current status of the bill.
- Alternating gray and white zones divide the bills into five types: multiple, collection, transparency, secret law, and FISC court reform.
- Bills with an olive green or bright green bar are particularly good or excellent bills, in the estimation of key civil liberties advocacy groups; links are provided to their reviews.
Our distinction between “good” and “excellent” bills is subjective; it’s either about the scope of the bill or about its power to stop NSA abuses. For example, MCCRC has joined the Center for Democracy and Technology’s “We Need To Know” coalition in endorsing Senator Franken’s “Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013” (S.1452), which allows recipients of surveillance orders to report on them twice a year, and requires annual, public reports about these orders by the government. (Likewise, we endorse the similar bill sponsored by Rep. Lofgren, H.R.3035). These bills are “best in class” for taking on the transparency issues raised by NSA abuses — and hence the ability for citizens to even know the scope of the problem — ‘but’ without tackling the fundamental Fourth Amendment issues involved. They’re not comprehensive, and they’re not meant to be.
[To view and download this table directly, click here.
For sources including ACLU, BORDC, CDT and EFF, see the “Sources, resources” tab]
So we also agree with the Bill of Rights Defense Committee: “[T]ransparency and judicial oversight are both important, as NSA abuses have been possible only due to government secrecy, but neither is enough … facts already disclosed to the public [also] require accountability, as well as substantive reforms to government surveillance powers…”
Perhaps the strongest bill to take on unconstitutional communication and metadata collection by the NSA is Rep. Rush Holt’s “Surveillance State Repeal Act” (H.R.2818). Holt’s bill takes the admirably straightforward approach of simply repealing the PATRIOT Act and FISA Amendments Act, and also limiting the NSA’s ability to require encryption ‘back doors’; the Bill of Rights Defense Committee considered it “easily the most aggressive and visionary proposal” in August, and the New York Times editorial board has commended its strong protections for online encryption.
A similarly strong Senate contender emerged last week when Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a broad “Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act” (S.1551); the ACLU’s Michelle Richardson called it “a first shot in the fight for comprehensive intelligence reform.” It combines strong limits on use of key sections of both the PATRIOT Act and FISA Amendments Act with reforms to the FISC Court process, which has been a near rubber-stamp for NSA/FBI requests in the past.
From a citizen perspective, then, we recommend calling…
- …your Representative to advocate for:
- …and our Senators Mikulski and Cardin to advocate for:
Phone numbers follow:
- Rep. Van Hollen: (202) 225-5341
- Rep. Delaney: (202) 225-2721
- Rep. Sarbanes: (202) 225-4016
- Senator Mikulski: (202) 224-4654
- Senator Cardin: (202) 224-4524