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Rep. Schiff Praises Changes Proposed by NSA Reform Panel to End Bulk Collection of American's Telephone Metadata

Washington, DC –Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee, praised reported changes proposed by the President’s NSA review panel that would end the program that collects metadata on phone calls made in the United States, an idea Schiff first proposed years ago in the Intelligence Committee. 

“I am pleased to learn that the President’s taskforce studying NSA reforms will recommend ending the bulk collection of American’s telephone call records, among other useful reforms. I have consistently maintained that instead of collecting vast amounts of domestic phone records, we should query the records held by phone companies on a case by case basis. The taskforce finding is yet another confirmation that restructuring the program is both technically feasible and more protective of the privacy interests of the American people. 

“When Congress returns, I will continue working through the Intelligence Committee and on the floor to end bulk collection, but I hope in the meantime the President takes the advice of his taskforce and begins the restructure immediately.  Many of these changes – like allowing the providers to hold onto their own records – can be accomplished without legislation and I would urge the Administration to act now."

Background:Schiff has introduced several pieces of reform legislation in addition to proposing changes to the phone metadata program.  First, 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.  Second, 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.