Bipartisan Coalition For Anti-NSA Legislation Grows

The USA FREEDOM Act, which aims to rein in the
National Security Agency (NSA), has a growing coalition of
bipartisan support that includes Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.).

The full title—“Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling
Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection, and
On-Monitoring Act”—is a mouthful. But it aims to do exactly what it
says. If passed,
the bill
could end bulk meta-data collection, require the
attorney general to make certain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
(FISA) court decisions public, and allow Internet and telephone
companies to disclose some information about FISA court orders they
receive. Additionally, it would create a position within the FISA
court of a “special advocate” to act “zealous and effective…in
defense of civil liberties.”

Support for the House bill, which was introduced in late
October, has been spreading. The Grand Rapids Press

that just since this weekend, the number of cosponsors
jumped from 70 legislators to at least 102, with an even split
between Republicans and Democrats. The act was introduced by Rep.

Jim Sensenbrenner
(R-Wis.), who wrote the PATRIOT ACT but has
since changed his positon and considers it “excessive and
un-American.” His co-author, Sen.
Patrick Leahy
(D-Vt.), also previously supported the
surveillance legislation, but now believes it does “not contain
sufficient safeguards to protect… privacy and civil

Will Adams, a spokesman for Amash, explained the
representative’s reason for support for the act. “We think the
American people want to rein in the NSA. They want their rights
protected, they want their privacy protected from government
surveillance,” he said to The Grand Rapids Press.

This isn’t Amash’s first time taking on the data-gobbling
agency. Earlier this year, the representative introduced the

, which sought less extensive changes than the USA
FREEDOM Act. Its strategy was to defund meta-data collection, but
the bill narrowly failed to pass in a House vote.

Derek Khanna points
that Sensebrenner’s and Leahy’s legislation has
cosponsorship from a number of representatives who didn’t even vote
for Amash’s bill. A range of organizations have also voiced their
support. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
that the bill “ensure[s] that bulk collection doesn’t
just jump to another secret authority.” The Electronic Frontier
Foundation (EFF)
is worried
 that the act “does not touch problems like NSA
programs to sabotage encryption
standards,” but still supports it as the “best shot at fixing some
of the worst problems with NSA surveillance.”

from Hit & Run

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