Tech, digital rights groups applaud Senate move on NSA reform

A procedural vote on a bill to limit the NSA's telephone records collection program could happen Tuesday

Several technology and digital rights groups have praised a U.S. Senate move toward passing legislation that would rein in the National Security Agency's domestic telephone records collection program.

A procedural vote on the USA Freedom Act could come as early as Tuesday, with a final vote on the bill in the days following. The bill, aimed at ending the NSA's widespread collection of U.S. telephone records, would have to pass both the Senate and the House of Representatives by the end of the year to become law.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, filed a motion to move the bill forward late Wednesday.

Among the groups applauding the decision to move forward with the bill were software trade group BSA, tech trade group the Computer and Communications Industry Association, digital rights group the Center for Democracy and Technology and justice advocacy group the Brennan Center for Justice.

"The legal reforms in the USA Freedom Act send a clear signal to U.S. citizens and Internet users around the world that Congress is serious about reforming government surveillance practices, and providing the judiciary and the public with tools that allow better oversight over remaining narrowed programs," CCIA President and CEO Ed Black said by email. "The USA Freedom Act closes key loopholes on bulk call data collection and offers greater transparency, which is essential for citizens in a free democracy."

Libraries have been fighting against government searches allowed under the antiterrorism Patriot Act for 13 years, said American Library Association President-elect Sari Feldman.

The Senate bill gives Congress "the opportunity to prove to the American people that their freedom from broad surveillance by their own government matters more than political posturing," Feldman said in a statement. "It's time, way past time, to finally vote on and pass [the] bipartisan, intelligence community-backed USA Freedom Act without weakening its already modest protections for the public."

While the bill has a good chance of passing in the Senate, it may face a tougher test in the House, where several prominent lawmakers have suggested the legislation would hurt the ability of the U.S. government to fight terrorism. House members approved a compromise, watered-down version of the bill in May.

While top officials in President Barack Obama's administration have voiced support for the stronger Senate version of the bill, some lawmakers have suggested the bill would endanger the U.S.

The Senate bill would require the NSA to use specific selection terms to limit its targets in the telephone records collection, and require the government to issue reports on the number of people targeted in surveillance programs.

It would give communications providers options on how to report on the number of surveillance requests they receive, and require the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to appoint a panel of special advocates to argue in support of individual privacy and civil liberties during court consideration of surveillance requests.

The NSA's bulk collection of U.S. phone records came to light in mid-2013, from leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentprivacylegislationtelecommunicationBarack ObamaCenter for Democracy and TechnologyBSAComputer and Communications Industry AssociationEd BlackU.S. SenateHarry ReidEdward SnowdenSari FeldmanBrennan Center for Justice

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?