Tags: Edward Snowden | Marco Rubio | Rand Paul | Ted Cruz | NSA | surveillance | Congress

Lawmakers, Tech Firms Press for NSA Reform

By    |   Friday, 17 April 2015 11:33 AM

With key provisions of the Patriot Act set to expire on June 1, a bipartisan group of lawmakers could introduce as soon as next week legislation that would place some limits on the surveillance powers of the National Security Agency (NSA), reports National Journal.

The USA Freedom Act would scale back the NSA's authority to collect phone metadata and would rely instead on phone companies to retain that data and would also reform intelligence-gathering programs operated under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), according to a joint press release from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and ranking Democrat Rep. John Conyers.

"I think there's a good chance that we'll be able to get something. I don't want to say much more, but I think the agreement may come together fairly soon," Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a Democratic member of the House Judiciary Committee, told The Hill.

However, Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff was more skeptical, telling The Hill that he does not "think there are the votes in the House for a straight reauthorization." Schiff, who is the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, supports NSA reform.

According to the National Journal, Nadler, as well as Goodlatte and Conyers, are expected to support the new bill, but the legislation faces a complicated road to passage in the Senate.

In November, the Senate failed by two votes to pass the USA Freedom Act, but that was before Sens. Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, who have divergent views on NSA reform, launched their campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination.

In March, a bipartisan group of companies, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and civil liberty advocates, such as the liberal American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and conservative FreedomWorks, sent a letter to the Obama administration and lawmakers urging them to pass a reform bill without adding controversial amendments that could derail its passage, according to a release from one of the signatories, the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute (OTI).

"There are some in Congress who think they can get away with reauthorizing the expiring provisions of the Patriot Act without any reforms at all. Today's letter draws a line in the sand and makes clear that the privacy community and the Internet industry do not intend to let that happen without a fight," said OTI Policy Director Kevin Bankston.

And on Wednesday, a group of tech industry trade groups issued their own letter calling on Congress to pass curbs on the government's surveillance programs.

While revelations by Edward Snowden about the NSA's spying programs resulted in calls to scale back the agency's authority, recent events, including the Paris terrorist attacks, have dampened some of the effort's momentum.

"Given the events in the last six months, from beheadings to the immolation of a Jordanian soldier, the national security crowd has the wind at its back," Michael Allen, a managing director with Beacon Global Strategies who previously worked as the House Intelligence Committee's staff director, told The Washington Post.

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers could introduce as soon as next week legislation that would place some limits on the surveillance powers of the National Security Agency (NSA), reports National Journal.
NSA, surveillance, Congress, Bob Goodlatte, John Conyers
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2015-33-17
Friday, 17 April 2015 11:33 AM
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