Today marks the one-year anniversary of the first-published revelations in The Guardian about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance activities. A year can feel like a lifetime in Washington, and there can be no doubt that much has rapidly changed in the public debate about how Congress views the balance between the collection of information and the need to protect civil liberties.
Last month, the House passed the USA FREEDOM Act, which would make many substantive changes to our nation’s surveillance laws that control how and when the government may access customer data. Now it is the Senate’s turn to consider surveillance reform and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will start the debate on the House bill by holding a hearing on the USA FREEDOM Act this afternoon.
ITI President and CEO Dean Garfield will testify at today’s hearing and will offer the technology sector’s unique perspective on how the Senate should view the House-passed bill, as well as the work still left to be done on surveillance reform. Dean’s testimony will focus on two important points. First, it is imperative that Congress act this year to reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as the NSA disclosures have caused real, global economic harm to the technology sector. Second, the Senate should build upon the work of the House and further improve the bill by fixing the definition of “specific selection term” and build on the transparency provisions in the House-passed bill as noted in our letter to House Leadership.
The Senate is close to making sure meaningful surveillance reform happens this year. We applaud the Senate Intelligence Committee for examining this important issue that is critical to restoring public trust in the technology sector and the U.S. government as well as continuing the innovative and competitive success of the American tech sector in global markets.