05.08.14

Rep. Schiff Statement on Intel Committee Vote to Advance Bill to End Bulk Collection of Metadata

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

During the markup, Schiff offered and withdrew an amendment based on legislation he has introduced called the “Ensuring Adversarial Process Before the FISA Court Act” which would have established a panel of attorneys to participate in cases before the FISA Court involving novel legal and technical issues and to argue on behalf of protections for privacy and civil liberties.

Schiff stated: “The bill reported unanimously today by the Intelligence Committee is a very important step on the road to ending bulk collection and reforming the metadata program.  It is also an indication of the emerging consensus on how to reform our surveillance authorities while preserving the capabilities we need to protect our nation. The bill we passed ends bulk collection, and moves to a model where the telecommunications providers hold their own data. It also largely tracks the Telephone Metadata Reform Act that I introduced in January, which requires FISC approval before a query is made to the telephone companies in the absence of exigent circumstances.

"I appreciate the work done by both the intelligence and judiciary committee members and leadership to find compromise and move forward. There is still much work to be done, and I hope to make more progress as the debate moves towards the floor. Among the areas I believe the bill can improve are strengthening the provisions to provide for an adversarial process in the FISA Court and permitting more informative transparency reporting by service providers and Internet companies.”

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.