USA Freedom Act Needs Improvements

BY Heather Greenfield
May 21, 2014

Washington – The USA Freedom Act is now scheduled for floor action this week under a closed rule. This is unfortunate since this bill needs improvement.

The following can be attributed to Computer & Communications Industry Association President & CEO Ed Black:

“This very important legislation will impact the civil liberties, freedom and security of every American citizen and of countless others around the world as well.  The massive bulk collection practices that have been revealed need to be unequivocally halted, and the bill lacks the certainty needed in this area.

“One of the proclaimed goals of key backers of the bill, of the Administration and even of many critics is to improve the transparency of our surveillance laws, policies and practices so the public can better understand and appreciate their rationale and how they are impacted.  However, another key area where we believe the bill is inadequate is in the area of transparency.

“In addition to improving transparency provisions in the bill, a more open and transparent legislative process is appropriate and necessary if trust is to be restored.

“We appreciate that many stakeholders have had a chance to be involved to some extent. However, given the genesis of the need for legislation in this area, and the impact on so many not represented in the detailed negotiations to date, it is disturbing that there is limited transparency and opportunity for public awareness and input. We had hoped there would be an adequate opportunity for the exact language of this legislation, and related committee report language, to be available for meaningful examination by all Members and by interested members of the public before being brought to a vote.

“We urge Congress to get the substance and process right, because trust cannot be easily restored when it has been so deeply eroded.  We fear an opportunity for meaningful, historic reform is being missed.

“Absent greater clarity and improvements to the bill, which we would hope would follow greater public scrutiny, we do not support consideration or passage of the USA Freedom Act in its current form.”

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