ACLU Optimistic on Administration’s NSA Reform Plan, Opposes New House Bill

March 25, 2014 1:32 pm

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WASHINGTON – The Obama administration will propose ending the NSA’s mass collection of phone records, instead requesting them from phone companies on an individual, court-approved basis. The companies would not be required to retain records longer than they already do.

Also today, the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee announced a bipartisan bill that would change the way the government obtains phone records. The legislation would allow the FBI to get them directly from phone companies, but without any specific court approval.

Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, had this reaction:

“The president’s reported plan to end the bulk collection of phone records is a crucial first step towards reining in the NSA’s overreaching surveillance. The change would replace the dragnet surveillance of millions of innocent people with targeted methods that are both effective and respect Americans’ constitutional rights. It is critical that the administration also end other bulk collection programs.

“The House Intelligence Committee, however, is on the wrong track once again. Its new bill uses reform momentum as a pretext for expanding government power. The bill’s modest improvements to the phone records program are not worth demolishing the important judicial role in overseeing these programs. The best bill we’ve seen so far to fix the NSA is the bipartisan USA Freedom Act.”

The administration will reportedly propose legislation to implement its plan. The House bill is sponsored by Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, the committee chairman, and Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the ranking Democrat.

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