Along with many other pro-civil liberties groups, FreedomWorks endorsed the USA Freedom Act introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner. The original bill contained language that would end the NSA’s bulk collection of data and increase transparency in government. We acknowledged that it wasn’t the perfect bill but it was a step in the right direction to reform the NSA. We had hoped that it would be voted on without significant changes that undermine the intent of the USA Freedom Act.
However, we can no longer in good conscience support the bill in its current form. The USA Freedom Act has been amended in ways that have severely watered down the bill. These changes to the bill–adopted in last minute negotiations– would likely still allow the bulk collection of metadata on Americans to continue. In other words, the new bill is mild reform that would barely do anything.
Other privacy groups share our concern about the new version of the bill. We are dissatisfied that previous strong definitions in the bill have been replaced with broad definitions. The original bill was pretty clear about who the NSA was allowed to surveil. The new language is more open ended and cannot be trusted to protect us from unjust government surveillance.
FreedomWorks cannot support a bill that will do virtually nothing to curb unconstitutional spying. This is unfortunate because we believed that the original bill was the best introduced bill to reform the NSA. Unfortunately, despite their promises to respect civil liberties, the White House put pressure on House members to change the bill. We are disappointed that the House leadership has succumbed to pressure by the White House to weaken the USA Freedom Act.
We encourage the House to at least delay the vote on the USA Freedom Act until members have the opportunity to review the changes to the bill that happened behind closed doors. We urge Congress to support true NSA reform that would restrict unconstitutional spying.
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