Broad Reauthorization of the Patriot Act? No Thanks

 

President Barack Obama
The White House

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper
Office of the Director of National Intelligence

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader
United States Senate

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Charles Grassley
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate

The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
Chairman
Committee on the Judiciary
United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Richard Burr
Chairman
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
United States Senate

The Honorable Devin Nunes
Chairman
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
United States House of Representatives

Attorney General Eric Holder
United States Department of Justice

Admiral Michael Rogers
Director
National Security Agency

The Honorable Harry Reid
Senate Minority Leader
United States Senate

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
House Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary
United States Senate

The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member
Committee on the Judiciary
United States House of Representatives

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
Vice Chairman
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
United States Senate

The Honorable Adam Schiff
Ranking Member
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
United States House of Representatives

                                                                                                       

March 25, 2015

We the undersigned represent a wide range of privacy and human rights advocates, technology companies, and trade associations that hold an equally wide range of positions on the issue of surveillance reform.  Many of us have differing views on exactly what reforms must be included in any bill reauthorizing USA PATRIOT Act Section 215, which currently serves as the legal basis for the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata and is set to expire on June 1, 2015.  That said, our broad, diverse, and bipartisan coalition believes that the status quo is untenable and that it is urgent that Congress move forward with reform.

Together, we agree that the following elements are essential to any legislative or Administration effort to reform our nation’s surveillance laws:

  • There must be a clear, strong, and effective end to bulk collection practices under the USA PATRIOT Act, including under the Section 215 records authority and the Section 214 authority regarding pen registers and trap & trace devices.  Any collection that does occur under those authorities should have appropriate safeguards in place to protect privacy and users’ rights.
  • The bill must contain transparency and accountability mechanisms for both government and company reporting, as well as an appropriate declassification regime for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court decisions.

We believe addressing the above must be a part of any reform package, though there are other reforms that our groups and companies would welcome, and in some cases, believe are essential to any legislation.  We also urge Congress to avoid adding new mandates that are controversial and could derail reform efforts.

It has been nearly two years since the first news stories revealed the scope of the United States’ surveillance and bulk collection activities.  Now is the time to take on meaningful legislative reforms to the nation’s surveillance programs that maintain national security while preserving privacy, transparency, and accountability. We strongly encourage both the White House and Members of Congress to support the above reforms and oppose any efforts to enact any legislation that does not address them.

Thank you,

Access

Advocacy for Principled Action in Government

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

American Association of Law Libraries

American Booksellers for Free Expression

American Civil Liberties Union

American Library Association

Application Developers Alliance

Association of Research Libraries

Brennan Center for Justice

Center for Democracy & Technology

CloudFlare, Inc.

Committee to Protect Journalists

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Computer & Communications Industry Association

The Constitution Project

Constitutional Alliance

Defending Dissent Foundation

DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Engine Advocacy

Free Press Action Fund

FreedomWorks

Global Network Initiative

Government Accountability Project

Hackers & Founders

Human Rights Watch

Internet Association

Internet Infrastructure Coalition

Liberty Coalition

Mozilla

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

New America's Open Technology Institute

Niskanen Center

OpenTheGovernment.org

PEN American Center

Project On Government Oversight

Public Knowledge

R Street

Reform Government Surveillance

ServInt

Silent Circle, LLC

Sonic

TechFreedom

Venture Politics

Wikimedia Foundation

World Press Freedom Committee

Letters

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