Washington (AFP) — More than 40 activist organizations and companies called Tuesday for an overhaul of U.S. government surveillance authority that goes beyond President Barack Obama’s proposal.
The coalition said Obama’s proposal to end bulk collection of telephone data by the National Security Agency is positive, but does not go far enough.
Any reforms should “prohibit bulk collection for all types of data, not just phone records,” the groups said in a letter to the White House and U.S. lawmakers.
“Legislation that focuses only on phone records may still allow for the bulk collection of, for example, Internet metadata, location information, financial records, library records, and numerous other records.”
The letter said the reform should require prior approval for each record request from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
“If there is concern that the FISA Court would move too slowly to authorize domestic surveillance beforehand, then the solution should be to provide the FISA Court with sufficient resources,” the letter said.
The organizations backed the U.S.A. Freedom Act introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy and Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, and rejected a more narrow bill introduced by a different group of lawmakers.
The letter was endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union, American Library Association, Amnesty International U.S.A., Center for Democracy & Technology Center, Electronic Frontier Foundation and the social network Reddit, among others.
It came days after Obama put forward a long-awaited plan to end the U.S. government’s bulk collection of telephone records, aiming to defuse a controversy over surveillance on millions of Americans.
The overhaul represents the president’s proposals to reform procedures at the NSA, which was rocked by disclosures about its activities in documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm