Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy introduced a new version of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2014 (the “USA FREEDOM Act” or “Act”) in the Senate on Tuesday, more than two months House of Representatives passed a version of the bill that omitted several reforms sought by privacy advocates.
Leahy, a co-author of the original bill, said the updated legislation has the support of the Obama Administration. The Reform Government Surveillance coalition of technology companies, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation also support the new version, according to a statement by Leahy’s office. The measure has 13 co-sponsors in the Senate, including Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).
The proposed Act would effectively ban bulk collection of phone records by circumscribing the scope and application of the so-called “business records” provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (also known as Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act). It makes clear that the government may not collect all information relating to a particular service provider or to a broad geographic region, such as a city, zip code or area code.