Last week, I joined a majority of my colleagues on the Intelligence Committee in voting to advance the USA FREEDOM Act (H.R. 3361). This bill ends the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone call records in favor of more targeted, individualized collection of information.
More specifically, the legislation I supported ends the bulk collection of Americans’ data while creating a narrowly-tailored program to balance the security needs of the country with the protection of civil liberties and privacy. In order to obtain a court order for more narrowly collecting data, the government must prove that the data they’re seeking is related to an authorized investigation and that it has a connection to terrorism or espionage. Importantly, the NSA must get this judicial clearance before, not after, they collect phone records – a provision supported by President Obama and me.
The bill also strengthens the prohibition on “reverse targeting” of Americans – targeting a foreigner with the goal of obtaining communications involving an American citizen – and injects transparency and oversight into the process by requiring more detailed judicial review and by allowing service providers to publically disclose the requests they receive from the government.
I am very pleased that the Committee reached a bipartisan compromise to move America towards a better balance between privacy and national security. While not perfect, this bill represents a good-faith compromise that will maintain our intelligence community’s ability to protect us while offering better safeguards for our civil liberties. Ultimately, this bill will not be the final word on NSA reform, and I will urge House Leadership to bring this bill to the floor so that we can take the next step towards ensuring stronger protections for Americans’ civil liberties.