Author of Patriot Act plans to introduce to bill to rein in NSA

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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A bill seeking to rein in the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection could be introduced in Congress as soon as next week, The Daily Caller has learned.

Ben Miller, Communications Director for Wisconsin Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, told TheDC that the bill text of the bill will drop the last week of October, and the bill currently has roughly 60 cosponsors in the House.

Breitbart News said the bill could appear on Tuesday.

Sensenbrenner and Vermont Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committtee, announced their intentions to introduce the USA FREEDOM Act, Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act, at the beginning of October.

According to Sensenbrenner’s site, the purpose of the bill is to “to rein in the dragnet collection of data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and other government agencies, increase transparency of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), provide businesses the ability to release information regarding FISA requests, and create an independent constitutional advocate to argue cases before the FISC.”

The bill would end the bulk collection of Americans’ communications records, reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, increase transparency and add a sunset date to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Security Letters.

National Security Letters allow federal officials to secretly collect the electronic communications of a suspect without a warrant or a court order.

During a keynote speech at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 9, Sensenbrenner — credited as the author of the original PATRIOT Act — emphasized the need to increase transparency in the federal government.

“We don’t need to have an Edward Snowden to let us know what’s going on there,” he said. “We need more transparency, and there’s a way to do it.”

Sensenbrenner has been a vocal critic of the way the agency has interpreted the law since former NSA  contractor Edward Snowden first began revealing in June secret information about how the NSA secretly collects the phone and Internet communications of Americans in bulk.

Sensenbrenner also voted for Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash’s defense appropriations bill amendment to defund the NSA’s bulk spying program.

Anti-surveillance activists are also scheduled to protest against the NSA in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Called the Stop Watching Us Coalition, the activists plan to deliver a petition of over half-a-million signatures to Congress demanding that members “reveal the full extent of the NSA’s spying programs.”

Organizations supporting the coalition include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Council for American-Islamic Relations, Young Americans for Liberty, Restore the Fourth and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Many of these same groups also rallied on the Fourth of July to end mass surveillance in the United States.

Editor’s Note: This article originally stated the bill would drop the first week of November. The bill is expected to drop the last week of October.

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