05.22.14

Rep. Adam Schiff Applauds Passage of USA freedom Act

Washington, DC –Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the House Intelligence Committee, released the following statement after voting to pass H.R. 3361, the USA Freedom Act – the legislation, which tracks closely with legislation Schiff previously introduced, ends the bulk collection of telephone metadata:

“The passage of today's bill puts the Congress on track to end the bulk collection of American’s telephone records and implements reforms to surveillance authorities to protect privacy and increase transparency.

"For a long time, I have urged that the telephone metadata program should end in favor of a system in which telecommunications providers retain their own records so they can be queried based on a court approved reasonable articulable suspicion standard. That’s precisely what this bill puts in place. It allows us to keep the capabilities we need to protect the nation from terrorist plots, while protecting privacy and civil liberties.

“There are remaining ways that this bill can be improved, and I hope that as it heads to the Senate there are opportunities to do so. It is my hope that provisions to introduce an adversarial process in the FISA Court will be included by the Senate. The FISA Court, and public trust, would benefit from an independent advocate who could represent the privacy interests of the American people in the limited number of cases that call for significant statutory interpretation or present novel issues. I hope that the Senate will incorporate these provisions, which would be both wise and constitutionally sound.”

Background:

Schiff has introduced several pieces of reform legislation in addition to proposing changes to the phone metadata program. First, Schiff introduced the Telephone Metadata Reform Act, which would restructure the  telephone metadata program by specifically removing call records from the types of information the Government can obtain under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. Instead, records would be obtained on a case by case basis from the telephone companies subject to approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Second, Schiff introduced the “Ending Secret Law Act” which would require the Attorney General to declassify significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions, allowing Americans to know how the Court has interpreted the legal authorities created under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.  Third, Schiff introduced legislation to require that the 11 judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Finally, Schiff introduced legislation to require the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board to create a pool of attorneys with experience in Fourth Amendment or national security law to argue the side of the public when the government requests a surveillance warrant in the FISA Court.