The last 100 days to pass surveillance reform
Thu 26 Feb 2015, 08:00

As of this past Saturday, there are less than 100 days remaining until certain provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act will expire unless Congress takes action. Now is the time for Congress to pass surveillance reform, and if they cannot, to allow the USA PATRIOT Act articles to sunset.

One of the expiring provisions, the well-known and well-worn Section 215, has been used to collect phone records of nearly all Americans. Section 215 and the privacy-invasive programs it enables have been rejected by the government’s own privacy experts. Even intelligence community leaders have supported real reform. Minimally acceptable legislation must end bulk collection under the USA PATRIOT Act and increase the transparency of surveillance programs without facilitating any new surveillance. 

NSA authorization to collect bulk phone data extended to June 1
Mon 2 Mar 2015, 08:40

A U.S. secret court has extended until June 1 the controversial bulk collection of private phone records of Americans by the National Security Agency.

The government said it had asked for reauthorization of the program as reform legislation, called the USA Freedom Act, was stalled in Congress. The bill would require telecommunications companies rather than the NSA to hold the bulk data, besides placing restrictions on the search terms used to retrieve the records.

An added urgency for Congress to act comes from the upcoming expiry on June 1 of the relevant part of the Patriot Act that provides the legal framework for the bulk data collections. Under a so-called “sunset” clause, the provision will lapse unless it is reauthorized in some form or the other by legislation.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act expires in June
Thu 29 Jan 2015, 22:00

Three provisions of the Patriot Act expire on June 1st: Section 215, the "Lone Wolf provision," and the "roving wiretap" provision.

All of these sections are concerning, but Section 215 takes the cake. It’s the authority that the NSA, with the FBI’s help, has interpreted to allow the U.S. government to vacuum up the call records of millions of innocent people. It’s also been the focus of most of the NSA reform efforts in Congress over the last year and a half. But if there were ever a time to reform the NSA, it’s now—because a vote for reauthorization, without comprehensive reform of NSA spying, will very clearly be a vote against the Constitution.

US Senate special session on Patriot Act renewal
Sun 31 May 2015, 19:00

The Senate convenes today for a rare Sunday session. Senators will consider whether to renew key provisions of the PATRIOT Act, including the NSA bulk collection program, due to expire tonight. Senator Rand Paul has said he will oppose any renewal. Also under consideration is the FREEDOM Act, sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Lee (R-TX). In 2013, EPIC filed a petition in the Supreme Court, In re EPIC, supported by experts, scholars, and members of the Church Committee, arguing that the NSA program was unlawful. In 2014, EPIC and a broad coalition urged the President to end the program. The Sunday debate will be broadcast live on CSPAN2 at 4 pm EDT.

US wants to collect bulk call records for six more months
Tue 9 Jun 2015, 10:00

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for permission to continue the bulk collection of call records for another six months, as the new USA Freedom Act allows for this transition period.

The filing, made public Monday, was submitted to the court last Tuesday, the same day President Barack Obama approved as law the USA Freedom Act, which puts curbs on the bulk collection of domestic telephone records by the National Security Agency.

The new legislation was passed by the Senate following the expiry at midnight of May 31 of the authorization of the bulk collection under section 215 of the Patriot Act. It leaves the phone records database in the hands of the telecommunications operators, while allowing a targeted search of the data by the National Security Agency for investigations.