One of Silicon Valley’s biggest players publicly endorsed legislation that would dramatically overhaul National Security Agency surveillance programs during a global protest against mass surveillance Tuesday.
Google announced its support of the U.S.A. Freedom Act on its public policy blog. The bill, written by Patriot Act author and Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner along with Vermont Democrat and Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, changes Section 215 of the noted Bush-era legislation to prevent the NSA from using it to justify the bulk collection of American’s phone data.
The bill also limits Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court warrants to targets with direct ties to terrorism, and amends elements of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to prevent warrantless wiretapping or searching through collected data without a court order.
“Google recognizes the very real threats that the U.S. and other countries face, but we strongly believe that government surveillance programs should operate under a legal framework that is rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent and subject to oversight,” Former New York House member and Google Vice President of Public Policy Susan Molinari wrote.
Molinari pointed out the bill contains multiple reform elements suggested by President Barack Obama’s NSA reform task force in December, and several proposals suggested by Google itself.
“We are thrilled to have Google endorse the U.S.A. Freedom Act,” Michigan Republican representative and bill co-sponsor Justin Amash said in a Washington Examiner report. “The biggest names in tech are getting behind the Freedom Act because it is the only legislation that protects Americans’ privacy from unconstitutional government surveillance.”
“Momentum is on our side, and I have no doubt that the Freedom Act would pass today if it were brought to the floor for a vote,” Amash said.