Congress Reauthorizes Overbroad Patriot Act Provisions

May 26, 2011 8:40 pm

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Four-Year Extension Contains No Privacy Or Civil Liberties Safeguards

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WASHINGTON – The House today passed a four-year extension of three expiring Patriot Act provisions without making necessary changes to the overly broad surveillance bill. The Senate passed the extension earlier today. The reauthorization will now head to President Obama for signature.

Despite bills pending in both the House and the Senate to amend the three expiring provisions and other sections of the Patriot Act to include much-needed privacy protections, Congress decided instead to move ahead with a straightforward reauthorization. The provisions of the Patriot Act that were extended – the John Doe roving wiretap provision, Section 215 or the “library records” provision and the never before used “lone wolf” provision – all lack proper privacy safeguards.

The American Civil Liberties Union has long called for reform of the Patriot Act and condemned Congress’ continued reluctance to rein in its broad surveillance powers.

The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“Despite having months to debate and legislate on this crucial issue, Congress has once again chosen to rubberstamp the Patriot Act and its overreaching provisions. Since its passage nearly a decade ago, the Patriot Act has been used improperly again and again by law enforcement to invade Americans’ privacy and violate their constitutional rights.”

The following can be attributed to Michelle Richardson, ACLU legislative counsel:

“Today’s passage means Congress has missed yet another opportunity to make necessary changes to protect our privacy. It means we’re likely to see more abuse of Patriot Act powers by law enforcement. Next time it’s given the opportunity, Congress should consider prioritizing Americans’ civil liberties by passing actual Patriot Act reform.”

To learn more about the Patriot Act and the ACLU’s work to reform it, go to:

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