Senator Leahy Introduces Updated Version of the USA FREEDOM Act

This morning, Senator Leahy (D-Vt) introduced an updated version of the USA FREEDOM Act (full text).  If you recall, in May, the House passed a version of the USA FREEDOM Act that many, including some here on the blog, criticized as a watered-down version of the initially proposed legislation.  Jennifer Granick, for example, argued that the House bill “would allow broad collection to continue under the guise of reform.”  After the House passed its version of the bill, many NGOs withdrew their support for the reform legislation.

So how much reform is in Leahy’s updated USA FREEDOM Act?  Well for starters, several civil liberties groups have come out in support of the new bill. So if such optics are an indication, the bill appears promising.  And in his floor statement, Senator Leahy says the bill, among other things, would “ensure[] that the ban on bulk collection is effective” and claims that “[i]f enacted, this bill would represent the most significant reform of government surveillance authorities since Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act 13 years ago.”  We hope to have a deeper analytical dive into the new legislation up on the blog soon, but in the meantime, here are a few good reads on the new version of the USA FREEDOM Act: from (i) the Center for Democracy and Technology; (ii) the ACLU; (iii) Access; and (iv) Marcy Wheeler over on emptywheel.net. 

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Thomas Earnest

Former Managing Editor of Just Security (2013-14) Follow him on Twitter (@thomasdearnest).