Contact the Senate Judiciary Committee Today to Support Reforms to PATRIOT Act!

For Immediate Release

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Contact the Senate Judiciary Committee Today to Support Reforms to PATRIOT Act!

WASHINGTON - If
your Senator is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, tell them to support
reform of the PATRIOT Act and demand that Congress do more to protect
Americans' civil liberties! Just this week, EFF published a report
revealing the FBI's systematic misuse of its NSL authority since 2001,
highlighting the urgent need for new checks on the government's PATRIOT
powers. The USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act of 2011 (S.193) will be
marked up tomorrow, so it is critical that you send a message now.

As several provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act are set to expire at the
end of February, and Congress regrettably rushes to renew them, there
is once again a new opportunity to press for meaningful reforms to the
dangerously broad spying powers granted to the government under that
law.

On Thursday February 3rd, the Senate Judiciary Committee
will begin considering The USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act of 2011
(S.193). The reforms in that bill would introduce some oversight and
accountability when it comes to how the government uses its broad
surveillance powers under the PATRIOT Act. The bill especially focuses
on curbing abuse of "National Security Letters" or "NSLs", secret
demands for communications and business records issued by the FBI
without any court oversight.

Just this week, EFF released a new report based on over 2,500 pages
of FBI documents obtained in Freedom of Information litigation,
revealing the FBI’s systematic abuse of civil liberties since 2001. The
EFF report, "Patterns of Misconduct", documents how the FBI has misused
its NSL authority thousands of times over the past decade, highlighting
the urgent need for new checks on the government’s PATRIOT powers.

In particular, S. 193 would:

  • require the government to justify its need for NSLs — and for
    so-called "Section 215" secret records demands and "pen register and
    trap and trace" communications monitoring orders issued by the Foreign
    Intelligence Surveillance Court — with a statement of facts explaining
    why the information it seeks is relevant to its investigation.
  • make clear that the recipient of an NSL can immediately go to court
    to challenge the gag order that prevents them from discussing the
    demand.
  • require a heightened showing of need by the government before it can obtain library records using Section 215 orders.
  • create new "minimization" requirements to insure that the
    government doesn’t hold onto data that it doesn’t need for its
    investigations.
  • introduce strong new requirements for the government to report on
    how it’s using its PATRIOT powers, and require auditing on the use of
    those powers by the Justice Department’s Inspector General.
  • restrict "sneak and peek" secret searches by shortening the time
    that the government can delay notice of a search from 30 days to 7 days.
  • avoid permanently renewing the three expiring PATRIOT provisions
    but would instead reset those provisions — and, importantly, PATRIOT’s
    expansions of NSL powers — to expire in 2013.
  • If your senator is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, you can make an impact by sending a message today
    about S.193. Support PATRIOT reform, oppose permanent extension of the
    PATRIOT Act, and demand that Congress act now to protect Americans’
    civil liberties!

    Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee, alphabetical by state:
    • Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama
    • Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona
    • Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California
    • Sen. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut
    • Sen. Christopher Coons, Delaware
    • Sen. Dick Durbin, Illinois
    • Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa
    • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota
    • Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota
    • Sen. Chuck Schumer, New York
    • Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma
    • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island
    • Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina
    • Sen. John Cornyn, Texas
    • Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont
    • Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah
    • Sen. Senator Mike Lee, Utah
    • Sen. Herb Kohl, Wisconsin

    More info:

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    EFF is the leading civil liberties group defending your rights in the digital world. EFF fights for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the US government or large corporations.

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