Members and Colleagues,
Congratulations! Thank you for being a part of last night’s incredible moment. Our group played an instrumental role in shepherding the biggest curtailing of surveillance in a generation, into law. i2Coalition was one of the very first trade associations to stand up for the USA FREEDOM act, which passed the United States Senate, and moved on to be signed into law by President Obama. Last night we showed that by working together, we can get laws passed that help rebuild consumer confidence in the cloud. This bill is a good start, and now we should move quickly onto the next fight.
Since knowledge of the scope of NSA surveillance became widespread, our group has been fighting for substantive surveillance reform. As a group of companies that build the infrastructure of the Internet, we hear from customers every day; we know that there is a direct link between consumer privacy, and the continued economic and innovative success of the Internet infrastructure industry. That’s why our group has been a voice for surveillance reform, explaining to legislators that it isn’t just a privacy issue, it’s an economic issue as well.
Passing the USA FREEDOM act brings needed reforms. It does things that simply sunsetting Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act could never do. I’d go as far as to say that sunsetting Section 215 alone was just a false sense of security, and included no real surveillance reforms. Surveillance programs would have continued without Section 215. Other tools were available to continue broad NSA programs, other legal loopholes. USA FREEDOM cuts off those tools too, and added in transparency measures that didn’t exist before. Without that transparency, we never would have known what programs were continuing.
It isn’t just the bill itself we should be proud of moving forward. We also had a major win during the debates on amendments. The Senate squarely rejected placing data retention requirements onto companies like ours. This is something that our group has fought hard for, and has educated Congressional leaders on. It has been wonderful to see that impact.
All that being said, USA FREEDOM is not all that we can hope for. It is admittedly a big compromise, and there are parts of it we don’t like. There is still a long list of surveillance and privacy reforms we need to continue, to increase confidence in the Internet infrastructure industry, both in the United States and globally. We aren’t satisfied by a long shot. This is likely a 10 year battle, and today’s big step is just the first in an iterative progress. This first step shows however, that we can make progress when we work together.
Thank you for being an important part of the biggest surveillance reform bill in a generation. On to the next big fight!