Policy: Technology

Google endorses NSA surveillance-reform bill

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Google,NSA,Ashe Schow,Justin Amash,Patrick Leahy,Technology

Technology giant Google has endorsed the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would curb the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

Google made the announcement on its public policy blog Tuesday, well-timed with a global protest against mass surveillance.

“Google recognizes the very real threats that the U.S. and other countries face, but we strongly believe that government surveillance programs should operate under a legal framework that is rule-bound, narrowly tailored, transparent and subject to oversight,” wrote Susan Molinari, Google’s vice president of public policy and a former GOP House member from New York.

Molinari pointed to surveillance reforms that the tech company unveiled in December, and said that the Freedom Act would “codify” many of those principles. She also said the bill reflects some key recommendations that President Obama's surveillance review board suggested in December.

And in a move that should further excite Fourth Amendment supporters, Molinari also urged Congress to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to ensure the federal government obtains a warrant before they can gain access to users' communications.

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., who co-sponsored the bill in the House, praised Google's decision and expressed hope that the legislation would come up for a vote.

"We are thrilled to have Google endorse the USA FREEDOM Act," Amash said. "The biggest names in tech are getting behind the Freedom Act because it is the only legislation that protects Americans' privacy from unconstitutional government surveillance. Momentum is on our side, and I have no doubt that the Freedom Act would pass today if it were brought to the floor for a vote."

The Freedom Act, introduced in October 2013 by Patriot Act author Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., is essentially a new form of Amash's amendment from July. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

This story was published at 4:42 p.m. and updated at 5:01 p.m.

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