Today Rep. Rush Holt introduced legislation to repeal federal surveillance laws that the government abused by collecting personal information on millions of Americans in violation of the Constitution, as revealed by a federal whistleblower and multiple media outlets last month.
"As we now know, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have been collecting the personal communications of literally millions of innocent Americans for no legitimate reason," said Holt. "Instead of using these powers to zero in on the tiny number of real terrorist threats we face, the executive branch turned these surveillance powers against the American people as a whole. My legislation would put a stop to that right now."
Holt's bill, the "Surveillance State Repeal Act", would repeal the PATRIOT Act and the FISA Amendments Act, each of which contains provisions that allowed the dragnet surveillance. The bill would reinstate a uniform probable cause-based warrant standard for surveillance requests, and prohibit the federal government from forcing technology companies from building in hardware or software "back doors" to make it easier for the government to spy on the public. Additional features of the bill include the true legal protections for national security whistleblowers, as well as changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to give it greater expertise in reviewing and challenging executive branch applications for surveillance operations.
"The executive branch's groundless mass surveillance of Americans has turned our conception of liberty on its head. My legislation would restore the proper constitutional balance and ensure our people are treated as citizens first, not suspects."