ACLU Comment on Intel Review Panel’s Recommendations on NSA Spying

December 13, 2013 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Draft proposals from the presidential advisory panel tasked with examining the surveillance activities of the National Security Agency will recommend broad reforms, including how the spy agency collects and stores the electronic information of Americans, according to media reports.

The draft recommendations, according to The Wall Street Journal, will propose that the call records of Americans — currently being collected by the NSA from phone companies on an ongoing daily basis — no longer be held by the spy agency but by the phone companies themselves or an independent third-party organization.

“Nothing short of stopping the mass, suspicionless surveillance of Americans is acceptable,” said Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel at the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office. “We look forward to evaluating the report’s details and whether the reported ‘stricter rules’ for obtaining U.S. records are a meaningful and substantive improvement. In the end, however, Congress must pass legislation to end bulk collection of Americans’ sensitive call records. Requiring third parties to store Americans’ records for the government is not a solution.”

The ACLU supports Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-Vt.) USA FREEDOM Act, which would not only shut down the NSA’s call records program but prohibit the bulk collection of all other American records.

“True reform must come from Congress and not the same executive branch responsible for implementing these unwise and un-American surveillance programs,” said Richardson.

Other draft recommendations, according to media reports, include raising the standards the NSA must satisfy before searching Americans’ records, handing over the NSA to civilian control, providing more privacy protections to European citizens, and instituting tighter controls over the use of National Security Letters by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Media reports repeatedly stress that the recommendations could change. The Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology’s final report is due on Sunday. No information has been provided about when the report will be released publicly.

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