Legislation

ARL Disappointed by Version of USA FREEDOM Act Passed by US House of Representatives

telephone with sticker that says "this phone is tapped"image © François Proulx

Today, May 22, 2014, the US House of Representatives voted 303 to 121 to pass H.R. 3361, the USA FREEDOM Act, after amending the bill twice in committees. The original version of the bill, which currently remains unaltered in the Senate, had 151 House co-sponsors. Some of these co-sponsors withdrew their support and opposed the version of H.R. 3361 reported out of the House Rules Committee on May 21 because of the significant changes made. Even several of those co-sponsors who voted in favor of H.R. 3361 expressed disappointment that the bill did not go far enough in curtailing the Government’s ability to conduct bulk collection of records and failed to protect privacy and civil liberties in the same manner as the prior versions.

 
 

ARL, SPARC, Other Organizations Oppose FIRST Act

"first" rubber stampOn March 24, 2014, ARL, SPARC, and 14 other organizations sent a letter (PDF) to Chairman Smith (R-TX) and Representative Johnson (D-TX) urging them to modify the Frontiers in Innovation Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014 (H.R. 4186), which reauthorizes parts of the America COMPETES Act. The bill includes many deeply problematic provisions relating to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and also includes restricted provisions for public access to research results.

 
 

Coalition Letter to US Senate Commerce Committee on COMPETES Act (Oct. 9, 2013)

On October 9, 2013, ARL joined more than 300 universities and businesses; higher education associations; and nonprofit, industry, and research organizations in a letter to US Senate Commerce Committee leadership supporting reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act. The COMPETES Act promotes innovation through research and development to improve the competitiveness of the United States. The legislation is focused on the activities and programs of several agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

pdf ltr-to-senate-commerce-cmte-on-competes-act-9oct2013.pdf

 
 

Two Bills Seek to Address NSA Surveillance Practices

phone with sticker that says This Phone Is Tappedimage © François ProulxThe continuous release of information concerning the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance practices has led to increased scrutiny by Congress. Two bills have been introduced that seek to address some of the NSA surveillance practices and address serious privacy concerns. First, Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the FISA Improvement Act of 2013 (PDF) that was approved by the Select Committee on Intelligence on October 31. The bill was not made publicly available until after the committee’s approval. The second, a bicameral and bipartisan bill, the USA Freedom Act of 2013 (PDF), was introduced by Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Sen. Leahy (D-VT) on October 29. This bill seeks to rein in the NSA’s bulk collection, analysis, and storage of Americans’ electronic communications. ARL with others in the public and private sectors support the USA Freedom Act of 2013.

 
 

ARL, Coalition Voice Support for Surveillance Transparency Legislation

phone with sticker that says This Phone Is Tappedimage © François ProulxOn September 30, ARL, together with 71 other privacy and civil liberties groups, sent a letter to the US Senate and House Judiciary Committees (PDF), calling on Congress to provide greater transparency around national security–related requests by the US government to Internet, telephone, and web-based service providers for information about users and subscribers. The coalition strongly supports the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013 (S. 1452) and the Surveillance Order Reporting Act of 2013 (H.R. 3035), each of which would clarify that companies have the right to publish basic statistics about the government demands for user data that they receive.

 
 
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