The National Coalition Against Censorship joined a coalition of forty-five civil liberties groups to endorse reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), including section 215 of the PATRIOT Act/USA FREEDOM Act, proposed in the Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act of 2020 (SAPRA). Led by the Free Press, the coalition’s letter calls on lawmakers to support the legislation, which would establish warrant protections for location information and internet browsing/search history, mandate an investigation into surveillance of First Amendment protected activities, and require the government to provide notice to defendants. The existing surveillance authorities are scheduled to sunset on March 15, 2020.
The PATRIOT Act has posed a threat to Americans’ privacy rights since it was rushed through Congress in the days following the 9/11 attacks. It has since been used to conduct surveillance resulting in some of the worst privacy abuses in our nation’s history. Past reform efforts, including the USA FREEDOM Act, still left intrusive and discriminatory surveillance systems in place that lack necessary protections for individual rights. SAPRA offers critical safeguards to protect people in the United States from overbroad surveillance.
The full letter, including explanation of the protections SAPRA proposes, can be read here: www.freepress.net/sites/default/files/2020-02/sapra_coalition_endorsement.pdf