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WASHINGTON May 18, 2020 – The U.S. House of Representatives must protect Americans’ online search and browsing history from warrantless government spying, over 50 companies and civil rights organizations demanded in a letter to Congress today. The groups include the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, FreedomWorks, DuckDuckGo, and Demand Progress.

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act, which would renew expired government surveillance powers. The legislation must now go back to the House for consideration.

While the Senate overwhelmingly supported an amendment led by Sens. Ron Wyden and Steve Daines to the legislation that would prevent the government from spying on people’s online search and browsing histories without probable cause, the amendment fell just one vote short of the needed 60-vote threshold. At least two senators who missed the vote had indicated they would have supported the amendment.

That all senators did not show up to vote is not good reason for a failure to protect Americans’ privacy rights, the groups note. They urge House leadership to move the Senate-passed surveillance reauthorization bill with the inclusion of the Wyden-Daines amendment. The Senate-passed version of the bill was an improvement over the original version of the legislation, including another amendment led by Sens. Mike Lee and Patrick Leahy that strengthened the role of the independent “friend-of-the-court” to the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Below is comment from ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Neema Singh Guliani:

“Search and web browsing history provide a window into some of the most sensitive aspects of our lives — revealing everything from political views to potential medical conditions. This information should not be collected without a warrant. The Senate vote shows there is overwhelming support for this important reform, which House leadership should include in the Senate-passed version of the bill.”

The letter, which remains open for signatures, can be found here: https://www.aclu.org/coalition-letter-house-leadership-concerning-wyden-daines-amendment-usa-freedom-reauthorization-act.

The latest list of signatories includes:

Access Now

ACCESS of WNY

American Booksellers for Free Expression

American Civil Liberties Union

American Family Voices

American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA)

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Arab American Civic Council

Arab American Institute

Center for Biological Diversity

Center for Democracy & Technology

Common Defense

Constitutional Alliance

Council on American-Islamic Relations

Courage California

Defending Rights & Dissent

Demand Progress

DuckDuckGo

Due Process Institute

Equality Labs

Fight for the Future

Free Press Action

Free Speech Coalition

Freedom of the Press Foundation

FreedomWorks

Government Accountability Project

Government Information Watch

Human Rights Watch

Just Foreign Policy

Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library

MediaJustice

Movement Alliance Project

MPower Change

MSA West

Muslim Justice League

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National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

National Coalition Against Censorship

New America’s Open Technology Institute

PEN America

People For the American Way

Poligon Education Fund

Presente Action

Progress America

Restore The Fourth

RootsAction.org

Secure Justice

Society of Professional Journalists

TechFreedom

Union of Concerned Scientists

X-Lab

Yemeni Alliance Committee