A bipartisan bill introduced in Congress Tuesday would end government spying on ordinary Americans by repealing the Patriot Act as advocates rush to reauthorize the law's most controversial provisions before a June deadline.
The Surveillance State Repeal Act, introduced by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), would overturn the 2001 Patriot Act that allowed for mass government surveillance in the name of anti-terrorism and the destruction of any information collected under it. The bill also would repeal the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which allows Internet spying, and would stop the government from forcing tech manufacturers to compromise encryption or privacy features to allow spying on their devices. Whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, who exposed the National Security Agency's mass surveillance in 2013, would have additional protections.
"Revelations about the NSA's programs reveal the extraordinary extent to which the program has invaded Americans' privacy," Pocan said in a press release. "I reject the notion that we must sacrifice liberty for security -- we can live in a secure nation which also upholds a strong commitment to civil liberties. This legislation ends the NSA's dragnet surveillance practices, while putting provisions in place to protect the privacy of American citizens through real and lasting change."
The bill faces an uphill battle in Congress, The Hill notes, as milder bills aimed at the Patriot Act in recent years haven't mustered enough votes to move forward.
Meanwhile, the provision of the Patriot Act that gives the NSA legal authority to carry out its phone data dragnet is set to expire June 1. While anti-surveillance members of Congress likely don't have the votes to extinguish the program, they may be able to shift the collection of phone records to communication companies from the NSA.