On Anniversary of Snowden Leak, Reformers Look to Senate to Rein in NSA Surveillance

June 5, 2014

New York, NY - One year after the first public disclosure of documents given to reporters by Edward Snowden, the need for meaningful surveillance reform is greater than ever.

Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee will hold an open hearing on the USA Freedom Act, a bill aimed at closing many of the loopholes that allow the NSA to collect and search through Americans’ data. The Senate Judiciary Committee is also expected to take up the bill later this month. A severely watered-down version of the bill passed the House last month after administration officials and House leadership weakened many of the bill’s surveillance restrictions.

Civil liberties and privacy advocates are now urging the Senate to hold firm on ending the bulk collection program and to restore limits on the NSA’s ever-expanding surveillance activities.

“Snowden’s disclosures have given Americans the chance to determine their own destiny when it comes to the government’s surveillance powers,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “Americans want reform, but the barriers are significant. Although intelligence officials have claimed that they are open to change, they have worked hard behind the scenes to undermine reform efforts in Congress. It is up to the American people to tell their elected representatives, loudly and firmly, that the government has no business collecting their private information without any basis to suspect wrongdoing.”

“The Senate must restore restrictions to the bill that actually limit the government’s broad surveillance authority,” said Faiza Patel, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. “As it stands, the House version does nothing to limit the NSA’s ability to search vast troves of Americans’ information, including what we say on the phone and write in emails to friends abroad. The American people deserve to know that their lives won’t end up in government databases.”

For more information or to set up an interview, contact Seth Hoy at seth.hoy@nyu.edu or (646) 292-8369.