Call it the Amash amendment: Round two.
Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., along with a bipartisan group of senators and representatives, introduced a bill Tuesday to curb the National Security Agency's blanket collection of American's phone records and metadata.
“The days of unfettered spying on the American people are numbered,” Amash said. “This is the bill the public has been waiting for. We now have legislation that ceases the government’s unconstitutional surveillance. I am confident that Americans and their representatives will rally behind it.”
The USA Freedom Act, authored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., the original author of the Patriot Act, would reform the Patriot Act to end the federal government’s mass collection of American’s phone records and Internet activity. The bill would also increase transparency by requiring Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinions to be available to members of Congress and summaries of those opinions be available to the general public.
The bill also modifies gag orders on telecommunications companies to allow those companies to be more transparent in what they share with their customers about government surveillance.
Additionally, the bill creates a new position, a special advocate, to defend the Americans’ privacy before the FISA court. The bill also gives the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board – which oversees liberty concerns – the power to subpoena in order to do its job.
Amash made headlines in July with his amendment to the defense appropriation bill that would have ended the surveillance programs revealed by Edward Snowden. The amendment narrowly failed 205-217.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is the lead sponsor in the Senate.