i2Coalition and Broad Coalition Calls on Leaders to Reform the USA PATRIOT Act
The i2Coalition is proud to join with New America’s Open Technology Institute and a broad coalition of more than 40 organizations and companies in calling on our leaders in Washington to reform the USA PATRIOT Act. The letter, which was sent to President Barack Obama, Congressional leaders, the U.S. Department of Justice, and National Security Agency (NSA), calls for the end of bulk data collection practices, including reform of Section 215.
Several provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act are set to expire on June 1, including Section 215, one of the most concerning parts of the legislation. It is critical for Congress to develop a strategy, at the minimum, to reform the USA PATRIOT act that focuses on the need for transparency in all surveillance matters.
In 2013, international concern erupted after the world became aware of the National Security Agency’s data collection practices. The NSA, through the FBI, compelled service providers to hand over phone records on hundreds of millions of unassuming people. In its overreach, the government claims that Section 215 gives them the authority to this bulk collection and massive invasion of privacy.
Section 215, which allows government agencies to collect data for national security purposes, has been interpreted by authorities to include metadata from millions of individuals who are not actually
accused or even suspected of criminal activity. The overly broad language of Section 215 puts business records, Internet usage, and detailed call logs in jeopardy and is an invasion of privacy for individuals and business in the U.S.
Furthermore, experts have weighed in and the data collected is needless for national security. From the President’s Review Board to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, the verdict is clear that this surveillance has not prevented a terrorist attack or even identified a threat. U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Udall (D-CO, ret.) and Martin Henrich (D-NM) agreed in their November 2013 amicus
brief, which clearly stated that the bulk collection has not given “any intelligence of value.”
The invasive surveillance practices are not only a clear violation of personal privacy and civil rights, but they have caused both short and long term economic consequences that are negatively impacting business across the nation. The full impact on current and future business losses has yet to be realized. Cloud companies are losing customers outside the U.S. due to privacy concerns. Consumers rightly demand service without the threat of surveillance and are going elsewhere based on the actions of the intrusive government in the spurious name of security.
There have been Congressional attempts to address privacy concerns though the USA FREEDOM Act, but the bill posed a problem because it didn’t give us the needed transparency pieces we wanted either. However, we will continue to have eyes on the resurgence of the legislation and opportunities to protect privacy and rebuild the economic damage caused by surveillance.
Jobs and economic growth are being harmed due to the status quo. Consumer confidence needs to be restored. The Cloud has a right to provide service without surveillance. Regaining confidence of the
global market must be a priority for Congress to restore the strength of the U.S.-based Cloud. Please join us in calling on Congress to vastly reform or sunset Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. Click here to download [PDF] the full text of our letter.