The USA FREEDOM Act - Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner

Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act  

Purpose:  To rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC. 

End bulk collection of Americans’ communications records

• The USA Freedom Act ends bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.  • The bill would strengthen the prohibition on "reverse targeting" of Americans—that is, targeting a foreigner with the goal of obtaining communications involving an American. • The bill requires the government to more aggressively filter and discard information about Americans accidentally collected through PRISM and related programs.

Reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

• The USA Freedom Act creates an Office of the Special Advocate (OSA) tasked with promoting privacy interests before the FISA court’s closed proceedings. The OSA will have the authority to appeal decisions of the FISA court. • The bill creates new and more robust reporting requirements to ensure that Congress is aware of actions by the FISC and intelligence community as a whole.• The bill would grant the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight  Board subpoena authority to investigate issues related to privacy and national security.

Increase Transparency

• The USA Freedom Act would end secret laws by requiring the Attorney General to publicly disclose all FISC decisions issued after July 10, 2003 that contain a significant construction or interpretation of law.  • Under the bill, Internet and telecom companies would be allowed to publicly report an estimate of (1) the number of FISA orders and national security letters received, (2) the number of such orders and letters complied with, and (3) the number of users or accounts on whom information was demanded under the orders and letters.• The bill would require the government to make annual or semiannual public reports estimating the total number of individuals and U.S. persons that were subject to FISA orders authorizing electronic surveillance, pen/trap devices, and access to business records.

National Security Letters

• The USA Freedom Act adopts a single standard for Section 215 and NSL protection to ensure the Administration doesn’t use different authorities to support bulk collection.  It also adds a sunset date to NSLs requiring that Congress reauthorize the government’s authority thereby ensuring proper congressional review.

Op-Eds by Congressman Sensenbrenner:6/9/13 The Guardian: This Abuse of the Patriot Act Must End7/23/13 Politico: How Secrecy Erodes Democracy 8/19/13 The Los Angeles Times: How Obama Has Abused the Patriot Act

Related Articles:6/6/13 The Hill: Patriot Act author 'extremely troubled' by NSA phone tracking6/6/13 Fox News: Author of Patriot Act says NSA phone collection 'never the intent' of law6/6/13 Politico: NSA violated law6/27/13 The New York Times: The Criminal N.S.A.7/10/13 The Washington Post: Lawmakers say administration's lack of candor on surveillance weakens oversight7/17/13 The New York Times: Bipartisan Backlash Grows Against Domestic Surveillance7/18/13 The Guardian: White House stays silent on renewal of NSA data collection order7/28/13 The New York Times: Momentum Builds Against N.S.A. Surveillance10/10/13 The Guardian: The USA FREEDOM Act: a look at the key points of the draft bill10/10/13 The Guardian: Patriot Act author prepares bill to put NSA bulk collection 'out of business'10/11/13 The Washington Post: Patriot Act author: 'There has been a failure of oversight'

Endorsements:NRAACLUThoughtWorksMozillaOpenTheGovernment.orgPEN American Center Association of American Publishers Brennan CenterConstitution Project The Rutherford InstituteAmerican Library Association Project On Government Oversight Bob Barr, former Member of Congress (R-Ga.); CEO, Liberty Strategies, LLC; 21st Century Liberties Chair for Freedom and Privacy, the American Conservative Union; Chairman, Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.); Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy, College of William and Mary; Chief of Staff, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell , 2002-2005 Arab American InstituteAmerican Association of Law LibrariesCenter for National Security StudiesCenter for Democracy and Technology

Center for Media and Democracy Bill of Rights Defense CommitteeAmerican Booksellers AssociationFree Press Action Fund