Washington – Senators Richard Blumenthal, Rand Paul, Mark Udall and Ron Wyden have introduced bipartisan legislation this week to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to curtail the overbroad collection of bulk communications data that the government has claimed was legal. The legislation would not restrict the ability of the government to collect data on anyone suspected of terrorism or in contact with anyone suspected of terrorism or spying. The bill, the Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act, would also reform the highly secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association had warned of the potential abuse of government surveillance power in Congressional testimony and has advocated for better transparency, meaningful boundaries, and effective checks and balances, when the government engages in surveillance. The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:
“This legislation would focus surveillance on targeting terrorists not average citizens and eliminate the bulk data collection programs that have disturbed people around the world as they learned about the scope, secrecy and legally questionable tactics being used.
“It’s time the US rebuilds trust with its citizens and those around the world. This bill is a critical step. It would restore some badly needed checks and balances and close some legal loopholes that were secretly being exploited to obtain massive amounts of electronic data. These policies risked eroding our democracy and this legislation is designed to provide the information US citizens would need to weigh in on the appropriateness of surveillance policies.
“One of the other important provisions of this legislation would permit companies to disclose information about government surveillance requests, and it would also require the government to report information on the scope of surveillance to the public. Further, it would give more power to compel testimony to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which was set up ensure government policies did not override constitutional rights.”