In the wake of the numerous spying scandals from the National Security Agency (NSA) to other departments of the federal government, two politicians are looking to overhaul the nation’s spying and security practices with a new sweeping piece of legislation.
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) introduced the Surveillance State Repeal Act in a memorandum on Tuesday (Mar. 24). The law, which was first created in 2013 after the Edward Snowden leaks severely damaged the reputation of the NSA and the United States around the world, would repeal the controversial USA Patriot Act and the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, another NSA spying program that was utilized to collect information from everyday American citizens.
More specifically, the legislation would remove all of the Patriot Act, which was overwhelmingly passed in October 2001 following the September 11 terror attacks. It would also require the U.S. Attorney General to delete and destroy any information that was retained from the 2008 FISA Amendments Act if that person is not under investigation.
The law would also protect whistleblowers, like Snowden, from being criminally charged for exposing fraud and illegal activities occurring under the federal government. The authors of the proposed legislation showed their support for the bill in a written statement.
“The warrantless collections of millions of personal communications from innocent Americans is a direct violation of our constitutional right to privacy,” said Rep. Pocan. “Revelations about the NSA’s programs reveal the extraordinary extent to which the program has invaded Americans’ privacy. I reject the notion that we must sacrifice liberty for security – we can live in a secure nation which also upholds a strong commitment to civil liberties. This legislation ends the NSA’s dragnet surveillance practices, while putting provisions in place to protect the privacy of American citizens through real and lasting change.”
The other author of the legislation also released a statement.
“The Patriot Act contains many provisions that violate the Fourth Amendment and have led to a dramatic expansion of our domestic surveillance state,” Rep. Massie wrote. “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. It is long past time to repeal the Patriot Act and reassert the constitutional rights of all Americans.”
The proposed legislation will likely not be voted on before the renewal of the Patriot Act, which is set for June 1. While some of the Patriot Act has been repealed over time, legislation still remains intact specific to how the government is allowed to obtain information from Americans.
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