11.17.14

Supporters Amp Up Pressure For Senate To Take Up & Pass Historic NSA Reform Ahead Of Key Vote Tuesday

WASHINGTON (Monday, November 17, 2014) – Supporters of the USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 continued urging Senators to take up and pass the legislation, which faces a critical procedural vote on Tuesday.

An unprecedented coalition of the nation’s leading technology companies sent an open letter to the Senate on Monday declaring that “Now is the time to move forward on meaningful change to our surveillance programs.” The letter was signed by AOL, Apple, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo!.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the National Rifle Association joined together over the weekend in an op-ed appearing in the Washington Times, writing that “While there is much the Senate shouldn’t or needn’t do during the “lame-duck” session, the USA Freedom Act is badly needed legislation that has bipartisan support and will protect the rights of all Americans. The NRA and the ACLU, along with many members of Congress from both parties, support these reforms and they should be enacted, without weakening amendments, by the Senate and sent to the White House as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, an editorial in Bloomberg View said passage of the USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 “would represent some substantial and unexpected progress in Washington.”

And on Friday, all five members of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology said the legislation “is broadly consistent with the recommendations we made last year in our report on how to safeguard both liberty and security in a rapidly changing world.”  The group appeared before the Judiciary Committee earlier this year to discuss their recommendations to reform the nation’s broad surveillance laws, a number of which align with Leahy’s bipartisan legislation. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is the author of the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act of 2014, which represents the most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001. The House passed similar legislation reining in surveillance authorities in May, and the Senate bill authored by Leahy includes stronger protections supported by a range of stakeholders who are now urging Congress to act before the end of the year.

“Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act expires on June 1, and our intelligence officials are asking for operational certainty.  Likewise, the American people are asking us to protect their privacy,” Leahy said.  “It is time to show the American people that Congress is about more than talking points, sound bites, and the next campaign.  It is time to get back to work, and to pass the USA FREEDOM Act.”

An outline of the USA FREEDOM Act of 2014 can be found here, and text of legislation can be found online.  A list of supporters of the legislation can also be found online.

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