Legislation would end NSA Dragnet Collection of Personal Communications
Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced the Surveillance State Repeal Act. The legislation would repeal dragnet federal surveillance laws, while overhauling the NSA’s domestic surveillance program.
“The warrantless collection of millions of personal communications from innocent Americans is a direct violation of our constitutional right to privacy,” said Rep. Pocan. “Revelations about the NSA’s programs reveal the extraordinary extent to which the program has invaded Americans’ privacy. I reject the notion that we must sacrifice liberty for security- we can live in a secure nation which also upholds a strong commitment to civil liberties. This legislation ends the NSA’s dragnet surveillance practices, while putting provisions in place to protect the privacy of American citizens through real and lasting change.”
“The Patriot Act contains many provisions that violate the Fourth Amendment and have led to a dramatic expansion of our domestic surveillance state,” said Rep. Massie. “Our Founding Fathers fought and died to stop the kind of warrantless spying and searches that the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act authorize. It is long past time to repeal the Patriot Act and reassert the constitutional rights of all Americans. I am proud to co-sponsor Congressman Pocan’s bill and look forward to working with him on this issue.”
The Surveillance State Repeal Act, H.R. 1466, offers a complete repeal of the 2001 PATRIOT Act, which the NSA has cited as the legal basis for its phone metadata harvesting surveillance program. Additionally, the bill repeals the FISA Amendments Act, which contains provisions for email data harvesting, while overhauling the NSA’s domestic surveillance program. Additionally, the legislation makes retaliation against federal national security whistleblowers illegal and ensures any FISA collection against a US Person takes place only pursuant to a valid warrant based on probable cause.
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The Surveillance State Repeal Act would:
- Repeal the PATRIOT Act (which contains the telephone metadata harvesting provision)
- Repeal the FISA Amendments Act (which contains the email harvesting provision), with the exception of the provisions regarding FISA court reporting and WMD intelligence collection.
- Makes retaliation against federal national security whistleblowers illegal and provides for the termination of individuals who engage in such retaliation.
- Ensure that any FISA collection against a US Person takes place only pursuant to a valid warrant based on probable cause (which was the original FISA standard from 1978 to 2001).
- Retain the ability for government surveillance capabilities to be targeted against a specific natural person, regardless of the type of communications method(s) or device(s) being used by the subject of the surveillance.
- Retain provisions in current law dealing with the acquisition of intelligence information involving weapons of mass destruction from entities not composed primarily of U.S. Persons.
- Prohibit the government from mandating that electronic device or software manufacturers build in so-called “back doors” to allow the government to bypass encryption or other privacy technology built into said hardware and/or software.
- Increase the terms of judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) from seven to ten years and allows their reappointment.
- Mandate that the FISC utilize technologically competent Special Masters (technical and legal experts) to help determine the veracity of government claims about privacy, minimization and collection capabilities employed by the US government in FISA applications.
- Mandate that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) regularly monitor such domestic surveillance programs for compliance with the law, including responding to Member requests for investigations and whistleblower complaints of wrongdoing.
- Explicitly ban the use of Executive Order 12333 as a way of collecting bulk data
Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition is proud to be among the many national and local groups supporting this bipartisan effort to roll back the (bipartisan) surveillance state, including…
Organizational Support (national): FreedomWorks, CREDO, Campaign For Liberty, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Demand Progress, Coalition for Peace Action, Defending Dissent Foundation, Restore the Fourth, National Libertarian Party, Media Alliance, Rights Working Group, We Are OneAmerica, Government Accountability Project, Code Pink, X-Lab, U.S. Labor Against the War, National Lawyers Guild.
Organizational Support (regional): Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition (MD), OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology (AR), Bay Area Civil Liberties Coalition (CA), Stop NYPD Spying (NY), Neighborhood UU Church of Pasadena (CA), Friends of the Constitution (WA), Dallas Peace Center (TX), Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights (IL), Cleveland Immigrant Support Network (OH)