WASHINGTON – The Senate will take a procedural vote Tuesday on bipartisan legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to restore Americans’ privacy rights by ending the government’s dragnet collection of phone records. The bill also requires greater oversight, transparency, and accountability with respect to domestic surveillance authorities.
“Americans expect and deserve a government that can keep our nation safe without compromising our privacy,” Senator Coons said. “The government’s warrantless surveillance program represents an unacceptable and unjustifiable violation of Americans’ privacy rights that cannot be allowed to continue. The bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act would end the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records and other data and reintroduce transparency and accountability into government surveillance activities. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to join me in passing these important reforms and restoring protections for Americans’ privacy.”
The Senate will vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 2685, the USA FREEDOM Act, on Tuesday evening. If it earns 60 votes, the Senate could vote on final passage of the bill as early as Thursday.
The USA FREEDOM Act bans bulk collection under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and other surveillance authorities, requires the government to narrow the scope of a search to a clearly defined “specific selection term,” adds needed transparency and reporting requirements, and provides key reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court. The New York Times wrote in July that, “the bill represents a breakthrough in the struggle against the growth of government surveillance power.”
The legislation provides significant reforms of surveillance authorities, while carefully maintaining the role of law enforcement and intelligence agencies and their responsibility to protect national security.
In August 2013, Senator Coons cosponsored the FISA Court Reform Act of 2013, which would create an Office of the Special Advocate tasked with advocating in the FISA courts’ closed proceedings for legal interpretations that minimize the scope of intrusion into Americans’ privacy. He also cosponsored the FISA Accountability and Privacy Protection Act of 2013 to require the government to be more transparent in how it publicly reports on its surveillance activities. Read more about them here: http://1.usa.gov/1j8UJ1L