Floor Statement in Support of End to Bulk Data Collection
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the USA FREEDOM Act, which virtually deletes the National Security Agency’s database of Americans’ phone and email records. The bulk collection of what we now know as “metadata” will end.
Under this bill, the government will now have to seek court-approval before petitioning private cell phone companies for records. The court will have to approve each application, except in emergencies, and major court decisions will be made public.
It is very similar to legislation drafted and introduced last year by the Intelligence Committee under the leadership of former Chairman Mike Rogers and myself, together with our colleagues on the Judiciary Committee lead by Congressmen Goodlatte and Conyers.
That bill passed with an overwhelming bipartisan majority and I want to thank Congressmen Goodlatte and Conyers –
as well as Congressman Schiff and Nunes of the Intelligence Committee – for continuing the pursuit of much-needed reform.
We need this bill to keep our country safe.
Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which is the part that legalizes much of NSA’s critical work to protect us from terrorists, expires in less than three weeks on June 1.
If we do not reauthorize it with the reforms demanded by the public, essential capabilities to track legitimate terror suspects will expire, too.
That couldn’t happen at a worse time – we live in a dangerous world. The threats posed by ISIS and other terror groups are just the tip of the iceberg. We also need strong defenses against increasingly aggressive cyber terrorists and the “lone wolf” terrorists that are often American citizens, for example.
This bill restores Americans’ confidence that the government is not snooping on its own citizens by improving the necessary checks and balances essential to our Democracy.
It balances the need to protect our country with the need to protect our Constitutional rights and civil liberties.
I reserve the balance of my time.