More than 50 privacy, human rights, civil rights, and government transparency advocates spanning the political spectrum have joined The Constitution Project in opposing renewal of provisions of the Patriot Act unless significant reforms are made.
Last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced legislation (S. 1035) that would extend until 2020 three provisions of the Patriot Act currently set to expire June 1, including Section 215, which the National Security Agency claims gives it authority for the bulk collection of U.S. phone records.
In a letter delivered to leaders of the House and Senate on May 6, the groups said that Section 215 of the Patriot Act was never intended to be permanent.
“Policymakers on both sides of the aisle, along with members of the public, have consistently urged Congress to take action to restore accountability, transparency, and faith in intelligence agencies. Despite this, Congress has yet to enact meaningful reforms that would end bulk collection, preserve privacy, and protect human rights,” the groups wrote.
“In the absence of meaningful reform, it is unacceptable to rubber stamp reauthorization of an authority that the government has used to spy on millions of innocent Americans,” they added.
Both the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies called for significant changes in the way the National Security Agency collects, stores and accesses phone call records. TCP has previously endorsed passage of the USA Freedom Act of 2015 that addresses some of the concerns raised by these reports.
In addition to TCP, groups signing the letter include the ACLU, the American Library Association, the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Cyber Privacy Project, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, FreedomWorks, the Liberty Coalition, the NAACP, People for the American Way, Restore the Fourth and R Street.