Tester hails FREEDOM Act
U.S. SENATE) - Amid allegations that the NSA is secretly stealing Americans' phone and internet records from servers at Google and Yahoo, Senator Jon Tester is backing new bipartisan legislation to outlaw the widespread collection of Americans' personal records and increase government transparency.
Tester is co-sponsoring the bipartisan USA FREEDOM Act. The bill, introduced this week, blocks the NSA from conducting bulk collection of Americans' records by requiring the agency to prove that it is seeking information related to a foreign country or organization.
Tester's measure, introduced by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), will also increase government accountability and transparency by requiring more oversight by government watchdogs and allowing companies like Google and Yahoo to publicly report government requests for personal communications.
"Every week we learn about a new government surveillance program overstepping our constitutional rights," said Tester, who has voted to repeal the Patriot Act multiple times. "It is long past time to rein in agencies like the NSA that operate without any accountability to the American people. This bill is a major step forward to find the right balance between protecting our civil liberties and our national security."
Tester's USA Freedom Act includes many other provisions to rein in government surveillance, including:
- Closing the "back door search" loopholes that currently allow the government to search for Americans' records within information collected on foreign targets
- Terminating the FISA Amendments Act in June 2015 instead of December 2017
- Reforming the FISA Court by creating a privacy advocate to argue against the government's position when the court is considering significant legal cases
Tester is a leading voice for protecting Montanans' and Americans' privacy and civil liberties. In addition to voting to repeal the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act that expanded government spying, Tester is backing legislation to declassify more FISA Court rulings and change how judges are selected to the court.
Tester's latest efforts to reign in government surveillance come in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations in June. The most recent news reports stemming from Snowden's documents allege that the NSA broke into the main communications links at Google and Yahoo to secretly collect communications records.