Tester seeks fresh limits on government eavesdropping
Senator backs bipartisan bill to severely limit Patriot Act, stop government surveillance program
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today lent his name to a new bill that severely restricts the federal government’s ability to spy on American citizens.
Tester is co-sponsoring the FISA Accountability and Privacy Protection Act. The legislation better protects Americans’ civil liberties and privacy rights by making it more difficult for the government to obtain phone call records and forcing federal officials to prove that sought-after records can be linked to a foreign terrorist or group.
Tester’s support for the bill brings new clout to the measure. Tester is a leading advocate for stronger privacy protections, having voted against the Patriot Act multiple times and recently backing a measure to declassify Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court opinions so Americans know what legal arguments the government is using to spy on them.
“Americans’ respect for civil liberties and the rule of law make our country the envy of the world,” Tester said. “We must find the right balance between protecting our nation and protecting our civil liberties. This bill takes needed steps to hold the government accountable and to make sure it respects the rights guaranteed to all Americans in the Constitution.”
Tester’s measure, which is co-sponsored by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), also terminates the section of the FISA Amendments Act that allows the federal government to conduct its internet surveillance program two years before its current expiration date. Tester voted to block the extension of the FISA Amendments Act in December.
Tester, who originally ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006 in part due to his opposition to the Patriot Act, immediately slammed the federal government after news earlier this month revealed that the FISA Court secretly granted the National Security Agency access to Americans’ phone and internet records without their knowledge.
In the wake of the revelations, Tester also called on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, which investigates national security measures to make sure they do not violate the privacy and civil liberties of law-abiding Americans, to begin investigating the government programs.
Board members recently met with President Obama and are reviewing the government’s surveillance programs.