A bipartisan bill was introduced yesterday that would to finally start regulating the NSA including ending the bulk collection of Americans’ communication records. The bill is authored by Democrats Ron Wyden, Mark Udall and Richard Blumenthal, and Republican Rand Paul. This is one of the first attempts to rein the NSA in after abuses by the agency were revealed by Edward Snowden.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is holding a public hearing on Thursday when the panel’s leaders are expected to discuss their surveillance reforms, the Senate Judiciary Committee is addressing the issue and several members of the House of Representatives have also introduced legislation.
“The disclosures over the last 100 days have caused a sea change in the way the public views the surveillance system,” said Wyden, a leading congressional advocate for tighter privacy controls, told a news conference.
The hearing on FISA legislation will take place today at 2 pm.
Part of the reform legislation addresses the one-sided FISA court by creating a position that represents the public in the proceedings. Currently it is simply the government and a panel of right-wing judges selected by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
Besides banning the bulk collection of Americans’ records, it would create the position of “constitutional advocate” to represent the public in the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that oversees the eavesdropping programs.
And it would let Americans affected by the eavesdropping sue for damages in U.S. courts and allow companies to disclose more information about cooperation with government surveillance.
It will be interesting to see where each Senator really stands now that they have to go on the record. There is a lot of power and money at stake in reforming the national security state. Now at least the public will have some indication and information on which members of Congress want reform and which were just posing for the cameras.