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.
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.
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.
On September 30, 2013, ARL, together with 71 other privacy and civil liberties groups, sent this letter to the US Senate and House Judiciary Committees, 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 their users and subscribers." Based upon such a review, the coalition gives its strong support in favor of the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013 and the Surveillance Order Reporting Act of 2013.
The coalition sent the letter to urge Congress to hold hearings for these bills, and it was a follow up to the July 18 letter (PDF) that the coalition wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
On July 30, 2013, ARL, together with 59 other privacy and civil liberties groups, sent this letter to the US Senate Judiciary Committee, calling on Congress to evaluate the National Security Agency's (NSA) surveillance programs and risks to civil liberties. Based upon such a review, the coalition urges Congress to enact critical reforms to ensure that government surveillance programs include robust safeguards for constitutional rights. Such reforms should include tightening the standards for collection and use of information, including communications metadata; increasing meaningful judicial authorization and review of such programs, and limiting the secrecy of such programs.
The coalition sent the letter in advance of the Judiciary Committee's July 31 hearing on the National Security Agency's (NSA) surveillance programs.
On July 8, 2013, ARL, together with 19 other privacy and civil liberties groups, sent this letter to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), calling on the PCLOB to author a public report about surveillance authorities and risks to civil liberties. The coalition sent the letter in advance of the PCLOB's first-ever public workshop, held July 9, to discuss the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs that collect phone records and monitor Internet traffic.
On July 8, 2013, ARL, along with 22 other good-government groups, sent this letter to the US Department of Justice urging Attorney General Eric Holder to make public any reports by Inspector General Michael Horowitz regarding the collection of Americans’ telephone records under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. If the Office of the Inspector General has not previously conducted a full review of this program, the letter asks it to do so.