Yesterday, Campaign for Liberty signed a coalition letter in support of Rep. Labrador’s Amendment to the USA Freedom Act. While Campaign for Liberty opposes the USA Freedom Act in its current form, C4L supports Labrador’s Amendment as well as the Poe-Lofgren Amendment.
Text of the coalition letter is below. We will continue to monitor the mark-up process of the bill.
April 29, 2015
The Honorable Bob Goodlatte
Chairman, House Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable John Conyers Jr.
Ranking Member, House Committee on the Judiciary
B-351 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
RE: Labrador Amendment to the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015
Dear Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Conyers, and members of the House Committee on the Judiciary:
We write in strong support of Representative Labrador’s proposed amendment to USA FREEDOM, which would refine the “emergency authority” language contained in the bill.
The current “emergency authority” language in the USA Freedom Act is over-broad and falls well outside the long-standing FISA standard that such emergency authorities be tied to a clearly defined emergency linked to an imminent threat of death or bodily harm. Moreover, previous Department of Justice Inspector General reports have documented the abuse of PATRIOT Act authorities employing “emergency” or “exigent circumstances” carve outs.
To cite one example, in January 2010, the DoJ IG issued a report on the FBI’s use of National Security Letters (NSLs) and so-called “exigent letters” that revealed a systemic, widespread abuse of power. The report detailed the FBI’s use of exigent letters, or emergency letters, to gain Americans’ private phone records for investigations when no emergency existed. The report also detailed the Bureau’s use of exigent letters to gain information on journalists in violation of the Attorney General Guidelines governing criminal and terrorism investigations. That audit followed two prior DoJ IG reports on the FBI’s use of NSLs that found serious breaches of department regulations and multiple potential violations of the law.
To help preclude this kind of abuse in the future, the Labrador amendment would strike the existing language and replace it with language that would require the exercise of emergency authority under this section be directly linked to a threat of imminent death or bodily harm.
Passage of this amendment would represent a critical strengthening of the underlying bill that would advance government surveillance reform and help rebuild lost trust among Internet users and businesses. We urge adoption of Representative Labrador’s amendment.
Campaign for Liberty
Center for Democracy & Technology
Electronic Frontier Foundation