As the infamous Patriot Act is set to expire, a new bill could effectively gut it completely.
The bill, called the Surveillance State Repeal Act—not to be confused with the 2013 bill of the same name and similar goals—was introduced Tuesday by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.).
The two didn’t mince words about the bill, pitting Americans’ constitutional right to privacy from the government against the National Security Agency, which has become the subject of intense scrutiny since former NSA systems analyst Edward Snowden leaked evidence of agency programs in 2013. “Our Founding Fathers fought and died to stop the kind of warrantless spying and searches that the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act authorize,” Massie said in a press release, referring respectively to the legal authority cited for the NSA’s practice of tracking American phone records and the PRISM program to tap American tech companies for user information.
Some privacy analysts resoundingly endorse the bill, like the Cato Institute’s Patrick Eddington.
Reports indicate that Congress has made little progress in reauthorizing the Patriot Act, passed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11—and, as other Snowden documents indicate, with significant NSA influence. It’s set to expire in June.
Though they don’t cite the Surveillance State Repeal Act by name, a host of dozens of advocacy groups signed an open letter Wednesday, urging Congress and the White House to repeal Section 215 of the Act.
Photo via Ashleigh Nushawg/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)