ACLU Opposes RESTORE Act, House Bill Does Not Have Sufficient Civil Liberties Protections

October 17, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union today announced its opposition to the RESTORE Act, saying the bill gives the government the ability to spy upon Americans without an individual warrant. Since the bill does not require individual warrants before government agents seize material from Americans on American soil, it fails to be constitutional.

“The RESTORE Act does not live up to its name – it does not restore the Constitution,” said Director of the Washington Office Caroline Fredrickson. “When Americans are sitting in their living rooms making a phone call or sending an email, they should be able to rest assured that the government is not monitoring their phone call or collecting that email without just cause or an individual warrant.” Fredrickson added, “The RESTORE Act includes broad year-long basket warrants that require only minimum court oversight to collect the maximum amount of information. Basket warrants, by definition, are not warrants at all. They do not give Americans protections that the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Fourth Amendment. The colonists rose up against King George for the same type of government overreaching.”

The ACLU is also likely to oppose the Senate bill, which is reportedly worse on civil liberties issues. The Senate bill is likely to capitulate even more to Administration requests for broad new authority to spy on Americans.

“We thought the House Leadership meant what they said in August when they promised to put real civil liberties protections into the new legislation,” said ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Timothy Sparapani. He added that the Senate should not be letting the telecom companies be allowed to be exempt from laws. “If the rumors about the Senate bill are true, it’s a sweet deal for companies that broke the law. Why follow the law when you can just re-write the rule-book?” said Sparapani.

“The House bill is a disappointment and does not contain the protections that Americans must have in a democratic society,” said ACLU lobbyist’ Michelle Richardson. “If the rumors are true, the Senate bill, like the Protect America Act, appears to have been written by the administration and is designed to give the government all the power and destroy even minimal checks and balances,” she added.

For a copy of the ACLU letter opposing the RESTORE Act go to: /safefree/nsaspying/32204leg20071016.html

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