WASHINGTON––This afternoon the U.S. House of Representatives passed the USA Freedom Act, a bill that reauthorizes section 215 of the PATRIOT Act until 2019 and allows the government to continue their mass surveillance of phone call data.
Fight for the Future has opposed the USA Freedom Act and, working with a coalition of other privacy groups, helped to drive tens of thousands of calls and hundreds of thousands of emails to Congress calling for real NSA reform and an end to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. The group also created a website (www.usafreedom.fail) that explains in eight bullet points why the bill increases mass surveillance, which flew to the top of reddit shortly after it was launched.
The passage of the bill comes less than a week after the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 2nd District ruled unanimously that the government’s bulk collection of call data under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act is illegal. The House’s action today are a step towards overriding the court decision and legitimizing the NSA’s expansive and illogical interpretation of the law.
Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight for the Future, issued the following statement:
Congress has an opportunity to reform mass surveillance by letting the PATRIOT Act expire, and that’s what they should do. Their vote today to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act with even broader terms that expand the scope of surveillance, is the opposite of reform. It makes absolutely no sense.”
There is literally no reason for the NSA to be surveilling everyone and their mom in order to go after their targets. Why they aren’t satisfied with the US Constitutional limits on search and seizure and getting a warrant to do so is very suspicious. That’s just rogue and illegal behavior and part of selling a culture of fear. We’re demanding to see them build a case to surveil my mom and millions of Internet users around the world before they get one more peek at our private lives.“
Congress is trying to sell the USA Freedom Act to the American people as reform, but what the bill actually does is extend and expand the government’s power to monitor our communications under the PATRIOT Act. Far from reform, the bill will allow the government to invade even more of our private moments than ever by updating their surveillance powers for the devices and communications platforms we use most often these days."
This is a fake privacy bill. Corrupt members of Congress and their funders in the defense industry are attempting to package up their surveillance-powers wishlist and misleadingly brand it as ‘USA Freedom.’ This is disappointing and offensive, and we will continue to work to kill this bill and any other attempt to legitimize unconstitutional surveillance systems.
Fight for the Future favors allowing Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act expire on June 1, 2015, as is currently scheduled under the law. The provision allows the government to secretly force anyone to turn over "any tangible things" that they deem to be relevant to an authorized investigation, as determined by the secretive, rubber-stamp FISA court. It is fundamentally flawed authority and a direct violation to the U.S. Constitution’s restriction on unreasonable search and seizure.
Fight for the Future also opposed last year’s version of the USA Freedom Act, calling for more meaningful reforms.