i2Coalition supports Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) bill to increase transparency about government surveillance activities authorized under section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013 would require the federal government to release annual reports detailing the amount and types of information collected through these programs, and also grants U.S. companies the ability to disclose some, but not all, government surveillance requests.
“The sorely needed provisions outlined in Senator Franken’s bill would equip the American public with the information they need to have an informed, transparent discussion about the merits of domestic surveillance,” said David Snead, i2Coalition Co-Founder and Public Policy Working Group Chair.
i2Coalition and 62 other companies and advocacy groups recently signed a letter to the President and Congressional leadership demanding that U.S. companies be allowed to publish reports of their own about the number of government requests for information that they have received and complied with. While Sen. Franken’s bill will also facilitate voluntary company disclosures of government inquiries, i2Coalition believes that a more comprehensive approach to the lifting of government gag orders is needed to ensure the vitality of the Internet infrastructure industry.
“By allowing companies to voluntarily disclose the details of government collection efforts, Sen. Franken’s bill would go a long way towards ensuring that U.S. Internet companies remain an important part of what needs to be a multistakeholder approach to crafting policy around this issue,” said Snead. “We look forward to working with Senator Franken and other members of Congress to make this bill even stronger by allowing companies to disclose government inquiries even if the number of individuals affected by such an inquiry numbers less than 500.”