CCDBR Joins Coalition of Support for Surveillance State Repeal Act

Posted on March 8, 2015

On March 4th, the CCDBR board unanimously voted to endorse the Surveillance State Repeal Act (SSRA)—a bill introduced in the 113th Congress by then-Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and slated for a March 18th introduction before the current Congress by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.).

In a letter to his colleagues Pocan writes:

“Over the past few years, revelations regarding our government’s overreaching surveillance activities have alarmed Americans everywhere. One of those provisions – Section 215 – has been used for years by the National Security Agency to collect the domestic phone records of millions of innocent, law-abiding Americans. On June 1, 2015 three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act are set to expire and Congress will likely consider related legislation, making this issue even timelier.

“According to press reports, all Americans are subject to the collection of phone call metadata, the harvesting of To, From and Bcc data, the blanket targeting of encrypted emails or encrypted “cloud storage” data repositories, and the targeting of anyone using Tor (an online anonymization capability). And this includes the communications of constituents with Members of Congress. We have also learned that for years the NSA has been pressuring software and hardware manufacturers to deliberately weaken commercial encryption technology in order to facilitate NSA’s surveillance operations. In doing so, NSA has made us all more vulnerable to hacking by criminals, and made it easier for foreign intelligence services to exploit these built-in encryption vulnerabilities.

“When Congress approved the PATRIOT Act, and later, the FISA Amendments Act, each contained key sunset provisions to allow for the review of those sweeping laws to see if they were truly working and whether or not the civil liberties of Americans were being properly protected. Each time these laws came up for renewal, House members were assured the programs were working and the rights of Americans were not being violated.

“As we’ve learned since June 2013, those assurances were not only false, but key information on unconstitutional abuses of these powers was withheld from virtually all House members, including during the debates on extending the sunset dates of these laws. It is time for Congress to act to end these abuses.

“We need a full scale repeal of both of these laws to allow for a truly thoughtful reconsideration of how we responsibly protect our nation from real threats while ensuring that the constitutional rights of all Americans remain sacrosanct.”

CCDBR believes this bill sets the gold standard for surveillance reform. In addition to repealing the PATRIOT Act and much of the FISA Amendments Act, Pocan’s legislation would criminalize retaliation against federal national security whistleblowers and ensure that any FISA collection against a US Person occurs only pursuant to a valid warrant based on probable cause.

By endorsing this bill, CCDBR joins the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Defending Dissent Foundation, Restore the Fourth and New York Times in a growing list of outraged groups and individuals who have already voiced their support for this new legislation.

CCDBR now calls on its supporters to contact their legislators and ask them to co-sponsor this bill!