Is this the year Congress passes a bill to limit NSA spying? The House of Representatives certainly hopes so. But just how strong that reform will be remains to be seen.
Minutes ago, the House of Representatives passed the USA Freedom Act overwhelmingly with 338 yes votes and 88 no votes. EFF is neutral on the bill. We believe the House missed an opportunity to strengthen the bill in light of the recent Second Circuit decision. We’re urging the Senate to take steps to strengthen the bill.
The bill is now sent over to the Senate, where all eyes will be watching. The Senate is expected to take up the USA Freedom Act anytime in the next two weeks, and is likely to vote on it by May 22. The Senate is uniquely positioned to improve the civil liberties protections in the USA Freedom Act by adding additional transparency and oversight provisions, adding stronger limitations on the collection of data on innocent people, and throwing out some of the recently-added provisions to the bill that were included at the behest of the intelligence community. Check out our detailed discussion of what could be improved in the bill, and why a recent Second Circuit Court ruling sets the stage for stronger surveillance reforms.
2015 can and should be the year for powerful surveillance reform, and we’re urging the Senate to rise to this opportunity.
However, even as the USA Freedom Act moves ahead, there are those within Congress who are seeking a rubber-stamp reauthorization of Patriot Act spying authorities. They’re trying to extend the mass surveillance of millions of phone records of law-abiding citizens for another 5 years. Join us in telling Congress that we need real surveillance reform—not another rubber stamp.