Statement from OTI: As House Judiciary Committee Approves USA FREEDOM Act to Reform NSA Surveillance Programs, All Eyes Turn to House Intelligence Committee

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WASHINGTON, DC —The House Judiciary Committee this afternoon unanimously approved the USA FREEDOM Act, the leading vehicle for National Security Agency surveillance reform in the House of Representatives.  The House Special Select Committee on Intelligence, which was scheduled to vote on its own surveillance bill tomorrow morning at 10 AM, has now signaled that it may take up the USA FREEDOM Act instead.

The following statement can be attributed to Kevin Bankston, Policy Director of New America's Open Technology Institute (OTI):

“This historic vote by the House Judiciary Committee to ban the government’s bulk collection of any records – telephone records, Internet records, financial records, or any others – is a milestone in the push to rein in the NSA’s surveillance authority.  Based on this strong bipartisan show of support for real NSA reform, we hope the House Intelligence Committee will abandon its much weaker reform bill and instead approve the USA FREEDOM Act when it meets tomorrow.  It’s time to put aside fake fixes and ban bulk collection for good, and we thank Judiciary Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers for coming together across party lines to make sure USA FREEDOM moves forward.”

“We’re especially pleased that at the last minute, the USA FREEDOM Act’s sponsors added back into the bill strong new provisions to allow companies to publish much more information about the number and kind of government requests they receive for user data.  It’s not everything that our broad coalition of organizations and companies has been asking for when it comes to transparency reporting, and we’ll continue to press for more in later stages of the legislative process, but it’s definitely a good start and we look forward to working with Congress to make those provisions even better.”    

“Of course, this bill doesn’t reach all of the issues around NSA reform that need to be addressed, such as NSA’s backdoor searches of Americans’ data, its undermining of encryption standards, or its frighteningly broad surveillance and hacking of communications systems outside of the United States.  But today is only the start of what was always going to be a long process of reining in NSA powers that have been growing in secret for over a decade.  If we can end bulk collection now and prevent bulk collection in the future, that would be an enormous victory, even if other battles remain to be won.”

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