The main substantive reform of the NSA proposed in Congress, the “USA FREEDOM Act”, would ban bulk surveillance, require a Special Advocate to plead the case against surveillance at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and force the publication of secret laws governing how surveillance is conducted.
At Digital Fourth, we have campaigned ever since the law was introduced to get 100% of Massachusetts’ federal legislators – Representatives and Senators – to cosponsor this legislation. Last week, with the cosponsorship of Rep. Richard Neal in Western Massachusetts, we achieved our goal, becoming the only state (other than Alaska and Montana) where that is true.
Right now, the USA FREEDOM Act has 141 cosponsors in the House out of 218 needed, and 21 cosponsors in the Senate. Its cosponsors are almost equally divided between Democrats and Republicans, sending a message that no matter who occupies the White House, people of all political beliefs have a stake in preventing mass surveillance.
Digital Fourth volunteer Kathleen Norbut, who helped persuade Rep. Richard Neal to become a cosponsor of the USA FREEDOM Act, notes:
As a regular citizen who treasures our democracy and the freedoms provided in our Constitution, I am pleased and grateful to see the Massachusetts congressional delegation leading once again in full support of the USA Freedom Act. As technology develops and impacts local, national and global issues, it is our duty to pay attention and work with elected officials to ensure the protection of our privacy and the rule of law in our country. I also want to thank Digital Fourth for its outreach and education efforts. It is a good day to see Massachusetts elected officials standing strong for freedom.
Our success in this shows that Massachusetts’ political culture can be made to support substantive reform. We are not powerless against surveillance. If we work together, and stand up together, we can make people in Congress hear us.
Next, we’re going to be discussing with legislators support for amendments to make the USA FREEDOM Act stronger and more comprehensive, and for cosponsoring the Surveillance State Repeal Act.