The House voted to reauthorize Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act via the USA Freedom Act just a week after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that bulk telephone record collection under Section 215 was illegal. In response, CREDO Mobile, Demand Progress and Fight for the Future called on the Senate to fight to sunset Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and oppose the USA FREEDOM Act, which could roll back the major civil liberties victory just achieved in the courts.
USA Freedom won’t end mass surveillance, but it could eviscerate court challenges to lawless surveillance and provide for legal immunization and compensation of companies that provide the government with customers’ private information, even where that company knows it is unlawful.
“Congress shouldn’t reauthorize a surveillance program that a federal court just declared illegal. But the House voted to do just that by passing the USA Freedom Act which could provide legal authority to continue some of the surveillance practices the judiciary just struck down,” said Becky Bond, Vice President of CREDO Mobile. “As a telecom that can be compelled by the government to participate in unconstitutional spying on Americans, we urge the Senate to fight to sunset Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and oppose the USA Freedom Act.”
“Investigations into the phone data collection program have made it clear it does not make the public safer,” said David Segal, Executive Director of Demand Progress. “While mass surveillance doesn’t reduce the threat of terrorism, it poses a severe, ongoing, unacceptable threat to our most cherished rights, the Constitution, and our democracy. We must let Section 215 expire, rather than extend it through USA FREEDOM or any other vehicle.”
“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,” added Fight for the Future co-founder Tiffiniy Cheng. “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.”