A Senate compromise on how the government should dial down its out-of-control surveillance could be revealed as early as next Tuesday, according to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy.
Leahy (D-Vt.) says that the bill, which is “within inches” of completion, would place “clear cut guidelines” on what the Nation’s intelligence gatherers “can and cannot do” while also offering measures to ensure that “the American people know that their privacy is going to be protected.”
Leahy sponsored the Senate version of the House USA Freedom Act, which was passed by lawmakers in the lower chamber earlier this year. The Senator, however, has vowed that his version will include stronger reforms than the bill passed in the House, which was disavowed by many supporters after lawmakers watered it down.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation told supporters in May:
Since the introduction of the USA FREEDOM Act, a bill that has over 140 cosponsors, Congress has been clear about its intent: ending the mass collection of Americans’ calling records. Many members of Congress, the President’s own review group on NSA activities, and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board all agree that the use of Section 215 to collect Americans’ calling records must stop. Earlier today, House Leadership reached an agreement to amend the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act in ways that severely weaken the bill, potentially allowing bulk surveillance of records to continue. The Electronic Frontier Foundation cannot support a bill that doesn’t achieve the goal of ending mass spying. We urge Congress to support uncompromising NSA reform and we look forward to working on the Senate’s bipartisan version of the USA FREEDOM Act.
As Leahy races against the clock to provide the legislation before Congress takes its summer recess, privacy advocates are a bit more upbeat about the Senate version of the privacy bill.