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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.

 
 

Letter to Congress in Opposition of Bulk Collection

On April 1, 2014, the Association of Research Libraries joined over 40 other organizations in signing a letter on bulk collection to Congress. The letter states that any legislation should prohibit bulk collection of all types and expresses support of the USA FREEDOM Act.

pdf ltr-bulk-collection-to-Congress-1apr2014.pdf

 
 

Letter to OSTP Requesting Comments for "Big Data" Review

In February 2014, ARL joined the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and 23 other organizations in a letter requesting that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) solicit public comments regarding the White House review of “Big Data and the Future of Privacy.” 

pdf ltr-to-ostp-re-big-data-privacy-10feb2014.pdf

 
 

White House Requests Public Comment on Big Data and Privacy

White Houseimage © Tom LohdanIn February 2014, ARL joined the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and 23 other organizations in a letter (PDF) requesting that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) solicit public comments regarding the White House review of “Big Data and the Future of Privacy.” On March 4, OSTP announced a public comment period that will end on March 31. OSTP is asking for comment on the following questions:

 
 

The Day We Fight Back: NSA Reform Bills to End Mass Surveillance and Provide Greater Transparency

Benjamin Franklin with quote from paragraph 2Benjamin FranklinToday, February 11, 2014, individuals and groups are participating in “The Day We Fight Back,” a day of action protesting the US government’s mass surveillance programs. Revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA) programs, including the breadth and scope of bulk collection of data conducted under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act (also known as the “library records provision”) have raised serious concerns regarding curtailment of civil liberties and the compatibility of these programs with the First and Fourth Amendments.

 
 

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.

 
 

Letter Urging US Government Toward Greater Surveillance Transparency (July 18, 2013)

On July 18, 2013, 65 privacy and civil liberties groups, sent this letter to the US government, urging them to show greater transparency in NSA requests to web-based service providers for information on users.

On September 30, 2013, 34 more groups (including ARL) signed the letter.

pdf ltr-us-gov-NSA-transparency.pdf

 
 
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