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Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin

Pocan Sponsors Bill to Rein in NSA Overreach & Protect Privacy Rights of Americans

Oct 29, 2013
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) today became an original co-sponsor of the bipartisan and bicameral USA FREEDOM Act that would rein in the National Security Agency’s (NSA) blanket surveillance policies and protect the privacy rights of all Americans. The legislation, which is sponsored in the House by fellow Wisconsinite and Patriot Act author Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05), would reform the Patriot Act by ensuring greater transparency and oversight over domestic surveillance programs and increasing the safeguards meant to protect the privacy of U.S. citizens.   

“We fight a futile battle to protect our liberties from outside if we cannot protect them from within,” Pocan said. “While ensuring our national security must remain our top priority, Wisconsinites are rightfully concerned that the NSA’s overreach threaten their constitutional right to privacy. The USA FREEDOM Act takes important steps to reinstitute the proper balance between security and liberty, and I thank my Wisconsin colleague Congressman Sensenbrenner for his leadership on this effort.”    

Earlier this year, Pocan voted for the Amash/Conyers amendment to the defense funding bill that would have restricted the NSA’s ability to use the Patriot Act to conduct blanket surveillance on Americans not under investigation.

A summary of the major provisions of the USA FREEDOM Act is below:

End bulk collection of Americans’ communications records

• The USA Freedom Act ends bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. 

• The bill would strengthen the prohibition on "reverse targeting" of Americans—that is, targeting a foreigner with the goal of obtaining communications involving an American.

• The bill requires the government to more aggressively filter and discard information about Americans accidentally collected through PRISM and related programs.


Reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

• The USA Freedom Act creates an Office of the Special Advocate (OSA) tasked with promoting privacy interests before the FISA court’s closed proceedings. The OSA will have the authority to appeal decisions of the FISA court.

• The bill creates new and more robust reporting requirements to ensure that Congress is aware of actions by the FISC and intelligence community as a whole.

• The bill would grant the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight  Board subpoena authority to investigate issues related to privacy and national security.


Increase Transparency

• The USA Freedom Act would end secret laws by requiring the Attorney General to publicly disclose all FISC decisions issued after July 10, 2003 that contain a significant construction or interpretation of law. 

• Under the bill, Internet and telecom companies would be allowed to publicly report an estimate of (1) the number of FISA orders and national security letters received, (2) the number of such orders and letters complied with, and (3) the number of users or accounts on whom information was demanded under the orders and letters.

• The bill would require the government to make annual or semiannual public reports estimating the total number of individuals and U.S. persons that were subject to FISA orders authorizing electronic surveillance, pen/trap devices, and access to business records.


National Security Letters

• The USA Freedom Act adopts a single standard for Section 215 and NSL protection to ensure the Administration doesn’t use different authorities to support bulk collection.  It also adds a sunset date to NSLs requiring that Congress reauthorize the government’s authority thereby ensuring proper congressional review.