Reaction was swift to the Senate's passage of the House-passed USA Freedom Act — which reforms Patriot Act-authorized NSA bulk data collection practices revealed by NSA contractor Edward Snowden — including from the senators themselves.
Many Republicans were less than pleased with the bill, but enough were supportive of the House bipartisan compromise (the bill passed 67-32) to push the contentious bill over the goal line.
“The government has gone too far and invaded the privacy of Americans. Nevadans, along with all Americans, are losing too many of their civil liberties under current law," said communications Subcommittee member Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.). "The USA Freedom Act is a bipartisan compromise to balance Americans’ right to privacy against the intelligence community’s ability to protect our nation. I am pleased the Senate came together to gut the PATRIOT Act of its most egregious section that allowed the NSA to arbitrarily sweep up and store law-abiding Americans’ call records.
“The American people have now spoken in both chambers on Capitol Hill, enough is enough. I’m proud to see the United States Senate’s action echo those sentiments," he said.
"Today, the Senate said no to surveillance laws that have failed to balance the need for security with the right to privacy," said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.). "We said no to the illegal bulk collection of Americans’ phone records. And we said no to FISA court rulings shrouded in secrecy. I am pleased that Congress has not simply extended sections of the Patriot Act without reforms to increase transparency and accountability. The USA Freedom Act takes important steps to protect the privacy and liberty of the American people in the 21st century digital world.”
“I am pleased that the Senate has finally passed these much-needed reforms to our government surveillance programs,” said Sen. Franken (D-Minn.) who was credited with helping strike key compromise on transparency elements. “We need to safeguard national security without trampling on our citizens’ fundamental privacy rights, and I believe this legislation goes a long way in doing that. I was also pleased to write part of the bill with Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada to increase transparency over these surveillance programs. Our measures will let Americans know how many people’s records are being collected and how often the government is actually searching for Americans’ data, allowing them to decide for themselves if the right balance is being struck between national security and privacy.”
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