Today, the Brennan Center for Justice and more than 50 civil liberties and technology groups urged Senate leaders to oppose two alternative bills that amend the US Patriot Act. According to the groups, the bills (FISA Improvements Act of 20151 and the FISA Reform Act of 2015) fail in the four specific ways:
- The bills require the use of “specific selection terms” but define these terms so broadly as to raise serious concern as to whether they would significantly curtail the government’s ability to collect large amounts of information of individuals with no nexus to terrorism.
- The bills do not require any public disclosure of critical Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rulings that contain novel or significant interpretations of law.
- The bills authorize the government to impose a data retention mandate on private businesses, a privacy-threatening measure that is unnecessary and unacceptable.
- One bill, the FISA Improvements Act, would actually permit domestic bulk collection by leaving unchanged the FISA Pen Register/Trap and Trace law, which was used for years to collect Internet metadata in bulk
“These proposals are unviable, ineffective, and do not offer a path forward,” groups said in a letter.