Thank you for getting in touch with me regarding legislation that reaffirms civil liberties protections established under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Recent reports have unveiled classified programs that allowed federal intelligence agencies to collect and analyze data on individuals’ phone calls. Warrants for these data collection activities were approved by the panel of 11 federal judges who make up the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) using authorities granted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the FISA Amendments Act (FAA). The Court’s proceedings and orders are generally withheld from the public due to their sensitive nature. While the data collected and analyzed was limited and did not include the content of calls, the practice of reviewing Americans’ phone records has raised serious questions about the impact of counterterrorism efforts on our civil liberties.
In response to these concerns, the Surveillance State Repeal Act was introduced to limit the data collection authorities given to national security agencies under USA Patriot Act and FISA Amendments Act of 2008. It would extend the maximum term limits of FISA judges to 10 years, repeal the USA Patriot Act, and prohibit the federal government from requiring manufacturers of electronics to build in privacy bypasses.
I voted against the Patriot act in 2001, against the FAA in 2008, and against the FAA’s extension in 2012 due to the warrantless surveillance mechanisms that each included. National security programs that involve the review of Americans’ communications records raise important questions regarding the proper balance between national security and our Bill of Rights. I will continue to closely monitor this situation as additional details about intelligence gathering and analysis come to light. Should proposals to amend FISA or clarify protections granted under the Fourth Amendment come before the Senate, I will keep your views in mind. Thank you again for getting in touch with me.
United States Senator
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