Dec 222013
 December 22, 2013  Posted by  Surveillance, U.S.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., announced Sunday that his committee will hold a hearing Jan. 14 to review recommendations for overhauling government surveillance programs.

Read more on USA Today.

Senator Leahy’s press release on the announcement:

The members of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee next month to provide testimony on their recent recommendations to overhaul the government’s surveillance authorities, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Sunday. This will be the Judiciary Committee’s first full committee hearing in the new year.

“The recommendations from the President’s Review Group make clear that it is time to recalibrate our government’s surveillance programs. The Judiciary Committee plays a critical role in this discussion, and that is why I have invited all members of the review group to testify publicly before our Committee next month,” Leahy said in a statement, after appearing on “Meet the Press” to discuss the issue. “Momentum is building for real reform.”

Members of the Review Group will appear before the Committee onTuesday, January 14. The White House last week released the group’s recommendations to reform the nation’s broad surveillance laws, a number of which align with Leahy’s bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act.  Among other things, the bill would end the bulk collection of phone records under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. In its lead editorial today, the New York Times highlights Leahy’s bipartisan measure with Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and notes that “Congress has the power to change the surveillance laws.”

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Several recommendations from the President’s review group align with provisions in the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act, a bill authored by Senator Leahy that has drawn broad support from across the political spectrum and a host of technology companies, trade associations and nonprofit organizations.

Those provisions include:

An End To Bulk Collection of Americans’ Communications Records

  • The USA FREEDOM Act ends bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, in light of the massive intrusion on Americans’ privacy and the lack of evidence of its effectiveness, and instead allows only more targeted searches.

Stricter Safeguards on National Security Letters

  • The USA FREEDOM Act places significant limits and safeguards on the use of National Security Letters, and includes judicial review of nondisclosure orders.

Protections  For  Americans’ Communications Collected Under the FISA Amendments Act

  • The USA FREEDOM Act closes NSA’s “back door” access to Americans’ communications by requiring a court order to search for the communications of Americans in data collected without individualized warrants under Section 702 of FISA.

Reforms To the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

  • The USA FREEDOM Act creates a Special Advocate tasked with promoting privacy interests in the FISA Court’s closed proceedings and addresses the problem of “secret law” by establishing a process for public release of FISA Court opinions containing significant legal interpretations.

Increased Transparency and Oversight

  • The USA FREEDOM Act permits Internet and telecommunications companies to report publicly basic information about their participation in NSA surveillance programs.
  • The USA FREEDOM Act requires the government to provide new public reporting on FISA implementation and the use of National Security Letters.


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