USA Freedom Act Introduced to Rein in on NSA

Legal Compliance Resource
October 30, 2013 — 1,062 views  

The past few months have seen the introduction of over 20 bills, related to spying reform and transparency, by members of Congress. The latest proposal to be introduced is the USA FREEDOM Act on October 29, 2013. The bill, introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Ct.) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), is intended to set some boundaries in terms of how the NSA collects and uses the information of American citizens.

Powerful Sponsors Behind Notable Bill

Rep. Sensenbrenner, current chairman of the Terrorism and Homeland Security subcommittee, is well-known as the lead sponsor of the Patriot Act. He has stated earlier that he deliberately drafted the act for the prevention of data mining and that the NSA wrongly used his legislation to collect the private information of American citizens. Being the one who drafted the Patriot Act, his support could have some influence on his Republican colleagues specializing in national security.

The other lead sponsor, Sen. Leahy chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and believes there must be an end to the government's indiscriminate methods of collecting and storing records. The committee in which he acts as chairman has jurisdiction over the FISA and the Patriot Act. Having two powerful lead sponsors from both the Senate and House backs the legitimacy of the bill. With support from both ends – the left and the right – the bill stands a strong chance of getting passed.

Amendment of Section 215

The USA FREEDOM Act will make amendments to the Patriot Act's Section 215, which is currently being misused for collecting the phone records of a majority of Americans. If passed, it would put an end to “bulk collection”; limiting the secret FISA court to collect only the information that directly concerns terrorists and their associates and activities. In addition, the bill will also strengthen the law against 'reverse targeting' of Americans. This would prevent officials from targeting a foreigner in an attempt to obtain any communication that involves an American.

Increase in Transparency

Under the USA FREEDOM Act, the Attorney General will be required to make a public disclosure of every decision, containing a significant interpretation or construction of law, issued by the FISC after July 10, 2003. This would reveal to the Congress and the public how the NSA interprets the law in its own way. Despite the fact that this bill cannot solve every issue with the government's surveillance programs and authorities, it still is a major first step that can pave the way for many other reform movements and amendment bills.

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