TCP Supports Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013

On August 1, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) introduced the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013, legislation designed to increase transparency for government surveillance programs.  This legislation would expand reporting on the scope of surveillance programs, helping to provide Americans the opportunity to become part of an informed debate about domestic surveillance – while still protecting national security.

“This bill is an important step forward in providing much needed transparency regarding the extent of government surveillance programs,” said Sharon Bradford Franklin, Senior Policy Counsel at The Constitution Project.

The Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013 would require the government to annually report on the number of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) orders issued under various surveillance laws, the general categories of information collected, the number of U.S. persons whose information was collected under the categories and the number of U.S. persons whose information was actually reviewed by federal agents.  The bill also includes less detailed reporting requirements and disclosure provisions for three surveillance authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), that do not involve the bulk collection of Americans’ records.

On July 18, a coalition of over 60 Internet companies and advocacy groups – including The Constitution Project – wrote to the President and congressional leaders to demand more surveillance transparency from the government, including allowing companies to voluntarily disclose aggregate statistics about the information they are being compelled to produce to the government. This bill includes provisions designed to address these recommendations.

TCP’s Liberty and Security committee has previously called for the reform of Section 215 of the Patriot Act and for greater transparency in orders issued by the FISC.

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