Washington — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich), with 11 bipartisan cosponsors, introduced the USA Liberty Act (H.R. 3989) on Friday. The bill is intended to reauthorize and reform Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which set to expire at the end of this year. Section 702 authorizes the programmatic surveillance of the electronic communications of non-U.S. person targets overseas.

As introduced, the USA Liberty Act includes a number of positive reforms to Section 702, in addition to a six year reauthorization. Among other changes, the bill:

  • Statutorily ends the collection of communications “about” a foreign intelligence target;
  • Partially closes the “backdoor search loophole” through which Americans’ collected communications can be queried and viewed without a warrant;
  • Requires the appointment of an amicus curiae for annual recertification of 702 programs before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court;
  • Improves the ability of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to operate without a chairperson, and
  • Imposes additional transparency and reporting requirements on the FBI and Intelligence Community.

The Computer & Communications Industry Association has fought for reasonable limits on electronic surveillance for more than a decade. The following can be attributed to CCIA President & CEO Ed Black:

“The USA Liberty Act contains a number of welcome reforms to electronic surveillance under Section 702, including the codification of the end of ‘about’ collection, a narrowing of the means through which Americans’ communications can be warrantlessly accessed, and additional transparency and oversight measures.

“This bill brings needed protections, however Congress has the rare opportunity to consider further reforms to electronic surveillance, so we look forward to working with Members to improve the bill.”

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