Thursday, January 23, 2014

Conyers, Nadler, & Scott Hail Government Privacy Watchdog’s Recommendation to End NSA’s Mass-Surveillance Program

(DETROIT) – Today, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) released a report criticizing and calling for an end to the National Security Agency’s (NSA) sweeping telephone metadata collection program. The PCLOB cited the program, currently permitted under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, as having “little unique value” in investigating and preventing terrorism. This comes on the heels of President Obama’s speech at the Department of Justice last Friday calling for Congressional action to curb excesses in the United State’s surveillance programs. After the report was released, Representatives John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) issued the following statement:

U.S. Representative
John Conyers, Jr.
Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.): “In 2007, Democratic Members of the House Judiciary Committee called for the creation of an independent civil liberties watchdog to respond to expanding government surveillance programs and capabilities. Ultimately, our advocacy resulted in the creation of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.  Today, the board released its long-awaited report on the government’s use of Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. The report concludes that the telephone metadata program has provided no significant contribution to our national security, at great cost to our privacy and pocketbooks. I agree, and urge Congress to take immediate action to discontinue the program as soon as is practicable. Moreover, as many of the PCLOB’s recommendations overlap with bipartisan surveillance legislation I co-authored – the USA FREEDOM Act – I am confident that meaningful reform of the NSA’s dragnet surveillance operations can be realized.”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.): “I applaud the work of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and welcome their voice in this critical debate over whether our existing surveillance scheme adequately safeguards Americans’ constitutional rights and Congress’s statutory demands. I agree with their conclusion that the National Security Agency must end its indiscriminant bulk surveillance of the American people. We know that this sort of mass collection of data does not make us safer and undermines our constitutionally protected rights. Working from these recommendations, along with those outlined in the USA FREEDOM Act, Congress must reform the law to ensure that there is real and lasting change and that the Constitution is fully respected.”

Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.): “Last week, President Obama spoke in detail about the need to reform the program of bulk metadata collection under section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, and today the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board issued its report calling for the end of that program.  I have been particularly concerned that the manner in which the statute has been interpreted places virtually no statutory limits on the collection or use of the metadata.  The conclusions reached in this report reinforce the fact that executive action alone will not be enough.  Now is the time for Congress to act, and we must trust but codify.”

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