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Franken, Heller Reintroduce Surveillance Bill

Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) have reintroduced the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013, an effort to increase transparency when it comes to government surveillance of the public.

Franken signaled he would hold a hearing on the bill Nov. 13.

The bill, which was first introduced over the summer, would boost reporting of programs under the PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

"The American public is naturally suspicious of executive power, and when things are done secretly, they tend to think that power is being abused," said Franken, who is chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law. "[R]ight now, the public isn't getting the most basic information about what's going on with government surveillance programs. That needs to change. My bill would require the NSA to disclose to the public how many Americans are having their data collected, and how many are having their information looked at. This legislation goes a long way toward increasing transparency over these programs, and I look forward to holding a hearing on it in my subcommittee."

Franken has added two new provisions to make it clear that reporting requirements in the bill would not themselves lead to any new collection of personal information or incur any new spending.

Franken says the reintroduction of the bill was in response to "60 leading Internet companies and advocacy groups who recently wrote the President and Congressional leaders to demand more government disclosure on surveillance programs..."