Protects Civil Liberties
Ends bulk collection: Prohibits bulk collection of ALL records under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, the FISA pen register authority, and national security letter statutes.
Prevents government overreach: The bulk collection prohibition is strengthened by prohibiting large-scale, indiscriminate collection, such as all records from an entire state, city, or zip code.
Allows challenges of national security letter gag orders: NSL nondisclosure orders must be based upon a danger to national security or interference with an investigation. Codifies procedures for individual companies to challenge nondisclosure orders. Requires periodic review of nondisclosure orders to determine necessity.
Improves transparency and better information-sharing with the American people
- Expertise at the FISA court: The bill creates a panel of amicus curie at the FISA court to provide guidance on matters of privacy and civil liberties, communications technology, and other technical or legal matters.
- Declassified FISA opinions: All significant constructions or interpretations of law by the FISA court must be made public. These include all significant interpretations of the definition of “specific selection term,” the concept at the heart of the ban on bulk collection.
- Robust government reporting: All significant constructions or interpretations of law by the FISA court must be made public. These include all significant interpretations of the definition of “specific selection term,” the concept at the heart of the ban on bulk collection.
- Robust company reporting: Tech companies will have a range of options for describing how they respond to national security orders, all consistent with national security needs.
Strengthens National Security
- Gives the government the tools it needs: Creates a new call detail records program that is closely overseen by the FISA court.
- Contains an additional tool to combat ISIL: The bill closes a loophole in current law that requires the government to stop tracking foreign terrorists when they enter the U.S. This provision gives the government 72 hours to track foreign terrorists when they initially enter the United States (it does not apply to U.S. persons) – enough time for the government to obtain the proper authority under U.S. law.
- Increases the statutory maximum prison sentence to 20 years for providing material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
- Protects United States’ maritime activities from nuclear threats, weapons of mass destruction, and other threats by implementing the obligations of various treaties to which the United States is a party.
- Enhances investigations of international proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
- Provides strictly limited emergency authorities: Creates new procedures for the emergency use of Section 215 but requires the government to destroy the information it collects if a FISA court application is denied.
Chart: Key Differences - more protections for civil liberties while protecting national security
Op-Eds by Congressman Sensenbrenner:
6/9/13 The Guardian:This Abuse of the Patriot Act Must End
7/23/13 Politico: How Secrecy Erodes Democracy
8/19/13 The Los Angeles Times: How Obama Has Abused the Patriot Act
10/28/13 Politico: The Case for NSA Reform
11/2/13 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: NSA abused trust, must be reined in
11/20/13 The Guardian: The NSA overreach poses a serious threat to our economy
5/12/15 The Hill: Pass Freedom Act now
The Software Alliance
The R Street Institute
The Center for Democracy & Technology
The Center for National Security Studies
Consumer Electronics Association
Consumer & Communications Industry Association
Open Technology Institute
Reform Government Surveillance
American Library Association
The Constitution Project
Association of Research Libraries
RGS Companies (Twitter, Facebook, Google)
Computer & Communications Industry Association
The Internet Association
The Information Technology Industry Council
The Washington Post
The News & Advance
The Tampa Bay Times
The Des Moines Register
Los Angeles Times