Senator Jon Tester is protecting Montanans' privacy rights by backing legislation to prevent the federal government from collecting and accessing Americans' personal information.
Under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, intelligence agencies can currently access personal information about law-abiding Americans when monitoring foreign communications.
But Tester's Protect America's Privacy Act blocks intelligence or law enforcement agencies from obtaining these private communications unless the information would prevent a terrorist act or help investigate a crime -- and authorities get a judge's permission.
"This bill protects Montanans' right to privacy by building a stronger wall between our private conversations and the federal government," Tester said. "We have the best troops and intelligence agents in the world, but when we give up the rights that make us Americans we give the terrorists exactly what they want. That won't happen on my watch."
Tester's bill comes on the heels of his demand to National Intelligence Director James Clapper to release more information about the number of Americans' communications secretly collected by the U.S. government.
Tester's Protect America's Privacy Act also prevents the intelligence community or law enforcement from using the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to acquire communications if the government is targeting a specific person in the United States.
Tester, who has repeatedly opposed the Patriot Act and other measures that threaten Americans' privacy rights, was an original cosponsor of the Justice Act that protected the constitutional rights of Americans while ensuring the government could adequately fight terrorism.