Today, the U.S. House of Representatives will consider the 2014 Department of Defense Appropriations Act (H.R. 2397). Among the proposed amendments is one offered by Rep. Justin Amash that would bar the National Security Agency from collecting logs of phone calls and Internet use under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) about anyone who is not “the subject of [a national security] investigation.“ The bipartisan amendment is cosponsored by Representatives Jared Polis, John Conyers, Mick Mulvaney, and Thomas Massie.
The following may be attributed to Berin Szoka, President of TechFreedom, and Ryan Radia, Associate Director of Technology Studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute:
This bipartisan amendment would defund the NSA’s indiscriminate, suspicionless domestic surveillance of countless Americans’ everyday communications. It’s a clean, elegant way for Congress to use its power of the purse to protect ordinary citizens while preserving the NSA’s ability to investigate international terrorism — the original purpose of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Just a few days ago, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court re-authorized an NSA program that forces U.S. phone companies to hand over all of their subscribers’ telephony metadata on a daily basis. This includes the phone numbers of both parties to any call involving a person in the United States and the time and duration of each call. The FISA Court is essentially a rubber stamp for the NSA. The court’s secretive proceedings violate the most fundamental guarantees of the Fifth Amendment to due process, as well as basic principles of the rule of law.
The courts clearly won’t protect our constitutional rights. It’s up to Congress to act by passing the Amash amendment.
Szoka and Radia are available for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TechFreedom recently sued the National Security Agency, along with eighteen other civil society groups and represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, to block the NSA’s mass collection of call records. TechFreedom also recently joined an amicus brief before the FISA Court arguing that companies holding user data have a First Amendment right to disclose aggregate information about the number of FISA requests they receive and how many accounts have been affected. Both TechFreedom and CEI recently joined a broad coalition supporting a WhiteHouse.gov petition asking for greater transparency into the scope of surveillance.