This Friday the President will announce a series of reforms regarding NSA surveillance after extensive consultation from lawmakers, companies, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, civil society advocates, and his own Review Group. CDT will be judging the President’s recommendations based on their substance, rather than the quantity. Following is a list of the key reforms that CDT urges the President to embrace to restore balance to government surveillance:
End Bulk Collection of Calling Records
The most critical reform at issue is to end and clearly outlaw bulk collection of communications metadata. There is growing consensus – including from the President’s own Review Group – that the NSA should no longer be permitted to gather records of phone calls to, from and within the U.S. en masse using Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. We hope the President will join this consensus and direct the NSA to end this program.
He should also endorse legislation intended to require individualized requests for records, as is proposed in the USA FREEDOM Act. Mandatory retention of call records by telecoms or a third party is not a solution. This bulk-collection-by-proxy fails to eliminate current problems, and raises a host of new issues such as increased risk of data breach, costs, and an endless stream of government agencies and civil litigants who would seek access to the retained calling records.
Limit the Scope of Surveillance on Section 702
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