Senate Introduces Welcome Bill To Limit Patriot Act Power

February 18, 2011 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – A welcome bill to narrow an overbroad Patriot Act provision was introduced Thursday in the Senate by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). The House approved legislation early Thursday extending three problematic provisions of the Patriot Act, including the provision addressed in Sen. Wyden’s bill, through May 27.

The bill will narrow the Patriot Act’s section 215, which allows law enforcement to obtain “any tangible thing,” including library and bookstore records. As the law currently stands, law enforcement is able to obtain that information without demonstrating that the person whose records are sought is connected to terrorism. Sen. Wyden’s bill would mandate that any request sought under section 215 be directly related to a terrorist, his activities or his associates.

There are currently three other Patriot Act bills pending in the Senate.

The following can be attributed to Michelle Richardson, ACLU Legislative Counsel:

“Senator Wyden should be commended for his effort to narrow the Patriot Act’s reach. Holding law enforcement accountable for how it uses its authority will not only help to protect Americans’ privacy, it will ultimately keep us safer. We hope the Senate will strongly consider this bill in the next three months as it moves forward with debate on Patriot Act.”

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

To learn more about the Patriot Act’s National Security Letter provision and ACLU client Nicholas Merrill go to:

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