In the latest legislative move to rein in NSA surveillance, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner today released new language for the USA FREEDOM Act that will be reviewed this Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee. If passed, the bill will move forward for the full House for a vote.
EFF Senior Staff Attorney Lee Tien issued this statement on the proposed "manager's amendment" text:
While we are still analyzing the bill, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner's new language is a potentially powerful approach to stopping the mass collection of phone records under the Patriot Act—amending several legal provisions that the government can use to secretly learn about our phone calls. We're happy that the House of Representatives remains actively engaged in this crucial debate, and urge the House Judiciary Committee to help move surveillance reform forward.
Nonetheless, we are deeply concerned about the number of "hops" that the bill would permit, as well as the undefined phrase "selection term," which may leave the door open to government attempts to take a nonintuitive interpretation of the language. We are also concerned that this bill omits important transparency provisions found in the USA FREEDOM Act, which are necessary to shed light on surveillance abuses. Finally, we strongly believe this bill should do more to address mass surveillance under Section 702 of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act, a section of law used to collect the communications of users worldwide.
We acknowledge this is a long process and look forward to the House continuing this debate.
Details on the hearing, including the text of the amendment, are available here.