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WASHINGTON, D.C. March 18, 2019—Today New America’s Open Technology Institute joined a coalition of 39 civil liberties organizations in calling on the House Judiciary Committee to hold public hearings and seek important information regarding surveillance conducted under the Patriot Act. The groups also called on Congress to end the Section 215 call detail records program, through which the NSA can obtain the records of Americans’ calls and text messages. The coalition urged that before Congress can consider reauthorization of Section 215 and the two other provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire in December 2019, it is critical that the Committee conduct vigorous oversight and make more information available to the public.

The coalition’s letter specifically requests that the House Judiciary Committee should:

  • Seek and make public information about what policies, if any, under the Patriot Act, have been implemented to prevent discriminatory targeting based upon race, religion, or political views;
  • Seek and make public information regarding the extent to which surveillance conducted under the Patriot Act may have resulted in the collection of information regarding the exercise of First Amendment protected activities;
  • Press the NSA to disclose whether it has ended the Section 215 call detail records program, and demand further explanations from the Intelligence Community regarding operation of that program; in particular, the Intelligence Community should comply with the requirement under the USA Freedom Act that it report the number of “unique identifiers” (unique accounts, persons, or devices) that have been collected under the Section 215 call detail records program and explain why the narrower call detail records program has continued to collect vast quantities of information;
  • Seek and make public information about whether the government has provided notice to criminal defendants regarding the use of Section 215 to obtain information related to their cases;
  • Press the Intelligence Community to explain how, if at all, the Section 215 call detail records program has been effective;
  • Press for disclosure of additional opinions of the FISA Court;
  • Seek and make public information regarding how the Intelligence Community is applying the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision in Carpenter v. United States, which held that the continuous collection of cell site location information for over a week requires the government to obtain a Fourth Amendment search warrant even though the data is held by third parties; and
  • Seek and make public information about the number of Americans whose information has been collected through surveillance conducted under Section 702 of FISA.

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The following quote can be attributed to Sharon Bradford Franklin, Director of Surveillance & Cybersecurity Policy, New America’s Open Technology Institute:

Before Congress considers reauthorization of the three Patriot Act provisions that are set to expire this year, Congress must first conduct robust oversight over how the government has been conducting surveillance under these and other Patriot Act authorities. The House Judiciary Committee has the responsibility and the opportunity to demand information about the extent of such surveillance and its impact on individual rights and to make this information available to the public.

New America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute dedicated to renewing America in the digital age through big ideas, technological innovation and creative engagement with broad audiences. To learn more, please visit us online at www.newamerica.org or follow us on Twitter @NewAmerica.

The Open Technology Institute (OTI) works at the intersection of technology and policy to ensure that every community has equitable access to digital technology and its benefits. We promote universal access to communications technologies that are both open and secure, using a multidisciplinary approach that brings together advocates, researchers, organizers, and innovators. To learn more, please visit us online at www.newamerica.org/oti and on Twitter @OTI.