Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chairman, Senate Committee On The Judiciary, On Government Surveillance And The USA PATRIOT Act

“The powerful law enforcement tools authorized by the USA PATRIOT Act require careful monitoring and close oversight.  That is why I pressed for sunset provisions, judicial review and other safeguards, many of which were included in the original law.  Since then I have continued to push for greater oversight and transparency in the way the government conducts electronic surveillance.  The privacy rights of Americans can be especially fragile when powerful technologies are applied in secrecy.  I have consistently voted against extending certain PATRIOT Act provisions because of a lack of sufficient oversight and privacy protections.  I will continue working to reform and improve the PATRIOT Act, just as I have worked in a bipartisan way to update the Electronic  Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).  I hope that all Senators will join me in our efforts to protect the privacy rights and civil liberties of all Americans, by swiftly passing my bipartisan ECPA reform bill, to protect Americans’ email privacy, and by carefully re-examining legal authorities in the PATRIOT Act that could authorize broad government surveillance.”

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