WASHINGTON – The National Security Agency’s authority to collect the phone records of millions of people is scheduled to end on June 1, and a bipartisan privacy coalition of 39 organizations wants to make sure it stays that way.
The new coalition, Fight215.org, is asking Congress to end Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which requires phone carriers to hand over the call records of American citizens to the NSA.
While NSA surveillance has been in the news for nearly two years following the first disclosures from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s document leak, a number of Congressional attempts to reform the agency have failed.
For example, Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, who promised during his announcement to run for the GOP presidential nomination to end the bulk collection program, voted no against the USA FREEDOM Act in Nov. 2014 because it would have extended the Section 215 program for another two years.
The coalition includes a range of organizations including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, Free Press Action Fund, DownsizeDC, TechFreedom, Fight for the Future, R Street Institute, and Human Rights Watch and the Sunlight Foundation.
Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom, said in a statement calling upon Congress to act, “of course the NSA plays a valuable role in protecting Americans, but it must — and can — do that consistent with the Fourth Amendment, which bars indiscriminate surveillance of innocent Americans with no connection to national security threats.”