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Coalition Urges Congress to Ensure Fourth Amendment Protection for Digital Communication

Constitution Day ad re ECPA View/download PDF On Constitution Day, September 17, 2014, ARL joined a coalition of businesses and civil rights, privacy, and public interest organizations in running an advertisement in Roll Call urging Congressional leaders to bring two bipartisan bills, S. 607 and H.R. 1852, to the floor. These bills would update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) and ensure that the warrant standard of the Fourth Amendment applies to private digital communication and information just as it applies to physical property. As an increasing amount of information is stored in cloud-based services and more communication takes place online, ensuring that the Fourth Amendment extends to the digital environment is critical. This coalition also sent letters to the leadership of the US House of Representatives and the US Senate urging passage of the ECPA legislation.

 
 

Coalitions Support Leahy’s USA FREEDOM Bill for Surveillance Reform

telephone with sticker that says image © François Proulx

This week, ARL joined two groups of organizations that engage on privacy and surveillance issues in letters to US Congressional leadership expressing support for the compromise version of the USA FREEDOM Act introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) on July 29, 2014 (S. 2685). The July 29 letter focuses on the enhanced transparency provision (PDF) and the July 30 letter addresses the bill more comprehensively (PDF). Both letters urge Congress to act swiftly and pass the new version of the bill, without any dilution or amendment. 

 
 

ARL Joins Coalition in Advocating for Surveillance Reform

telephone with sticker that says image © François Proulx

On June 18, 2014, ARL joined 36 organizations that engage on privacy and surveillance issues in a letter (PDF) to US Senate leadership expressing concerns with the version of the USA FREEDOM Act passed by the US House of Representatives on May 22 (H.R. 3361). The legislation was originally intended to limit the Government’s ability to conduct bulk collection of records. The letter notes that, before a vote on the House floor, last-minute changes were made that resulted in half of the bill’s co-sponsors withdrawing their support and voting against the bill because it was significantly weakened and lacked clarity.

 
 

Email Privacy Act Cosponsored by Majority of House of Representatives; ARL Applauds Milestone in ECPA Reform

e-mail-iconimage courtesy gezegenARL is pleased that on June 17, 2014, the Email Privacy Act, H.R. 1852, reached a milestone of 218 cosponsors, representing support from a majority of the members of the US House of Representatives.

 
 

Controversial FIRST Bill Moves Forward

"first" rubber stampOn May 28, 2014, the US House of Representatives Science, Space, and Technology Committee passed the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014, H.R. 4186. The bill seeks to reauthorize sections of the America COMPETES Act relating to the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The bill is highly controversial and opposed by many organizations and institutions.

 
 

ARL Joins Coalition in Letter Supporting Surveillance Reform

telephone with sticker that says image © François Proulx

On June 4, 2014, ARL joined 23 public sector organizations that engage on privacy and surveillance issues in a letter (PDF) to US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and the chairs of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence regarding the USA FREEDOM Act, H.R. 3361 and S. 1599, a bill intended to limit the Government’s ability to conduct bulk collection of records. H.R. 3361 as passed by the US House of Representatives was significantly weakened and many provisions now lack clarity.

 
 

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.

 
 
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