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Surveillance Reform Is a Must for PATRIOT Act Reauthorization

Congress is preparing to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act within the next couple of weeks, a wide reaching law that was hastily crafted without much regard for the long-term implications. In the last few years, however, we've seen how certain sections of the law allow the government to spy on innocent citizens without warrants, violating their rights to due process guaranteed under the Constitution.

In particular, Section 215 of the law allows the government to massively sweep up metadata - information about the phone calls you make - without any suspicion of individual criminal activity.

While there may be certain sections of the PATRIOT Act that can be justified under national security grounds, we should not be so quick to surrender our civil liberties out of fear. It would be a simple task for Congress to reform Section 215 and end mass metadata collection once and for all. With this information, the government can piece together massive amounts of details about your personal life.

No one who values liberty should accept a reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act without - at minimum - an end to the bulk collection of telephone data that is currently violating all of our rights. Even according to our own intelligence officials, Section 215 is not keeping us any safer, it's just putting more power into the hands of government snoops.

Christopher Burleigh's picture
Christopher Burleigh

If the Patriot Act were revised and the NSA not pleased with their powers being curbed simply ignore the revisions in violation of the law would anyone be prosecuted and jailed if they got caught? We all know that no one would be. Who was prosecuted for the torture of prisoners? George Bush openly bragged without fear about having prisoners tortured in his autobiography. James Clapper lied under oath without fear. If the president wants the NSA to go beyond the law he merely instructs the Office of Legal Council to interpret the law in such a way that lets him do whatever he wants. You folks are wasting your time trying to get the law changed since anyone under the protection of the president may break it with impunity.