More than 50 organizations from across the ideological spectrum joined The Constitution Project in voicing strong opposition to two separate Patriot Act proposals being offered by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the panel’s ranking member. In a letter delivered to Senate leadership on May 28, the groups said the separate offerings fail to properly address overly broad surveillance activities, and would weaken privacy, civil liberties, and the digital economy.
“Both bills contain flaws and omissions that are incompatible with the goal of stopping domestic bulk collection [and] do not require any public disclosure of critical Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rulings that contain novel or significant interpretations of law … These proposals are unviable, ineffective, and do not offer a path forward,” the groups wrote.
Burr and Feinstein are characterizing their proposals as “compromise” surveillance reform legislation. However, the USA Freedom Act is already a carefully crafted compromise that enjoys broad bipartisan, bicameral support. Neither of the proposals from Burr or Feinstein ends bulk collection of phone data, nor do they provide much needed transparency. Further information on the flaws in the two proposals is available here and here. Moreover, the chief sponsors of the USA Freedom Act have indicated the House will not support a watered-down version of the bill.