Fifty-four civil liberties and public interest groups sent a letter to Congressional leadership today opposing S. 1631, the FISA Improvements Act, sponsored by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and others. The bill would legalize and extend the bulk collection of telephone and Internet metadata, one of the NSA mass surveillance programs confirmed by documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden earlier this year.
The coalition letter highlighted the free speech concerns with continued bulk data collection by the NSA, noting, “The NSA mass surveillance programs already sweep up data about millions of people daily. This shadow of surveillance chills freedom of speech, undermines confidence in US Internet companies, and runs afoul of the Constitution.”
Senator Feinstein has been promoting the bill as a way to rein in NSA overreach, but legal experts say the bill would sanction the worst of the surveillance abuses. The letter published today calls on members of Congress to reject the FISA Improvements Act and instead champion reforms like the USA FREEDOM Act.
In addition to The Constitution Project, signers included the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Democracy and Technology, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Liberty Watch, PEN American Center, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, TechFreedom, The Rutherford Institute and others.