WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today joined Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., and a total of 11 senators to introduce the USA RIGHTS Act, which reforms a sweeping, secretive government spying program to protect the Constitutional rights of Americans, while giving intelligence agencies authority to target foreign terrorists, criminals and other overseas intelligence targets.
“I believe we need to strengthen our counterterrorism efforts and protect the privacy and freedoms of law-abiding Americans – we can and must do both,” said Senator Baldwin. “We have seen in the past that government surveillance programs have crossed the line and infringed on the privacy rights of Americans. I’m joining this bipartisan effort to reign in government overreach and strengthen the civil liberties of law-abiding Americans as guaranteed by our constitution.”
The bipartisan legislation reforms Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to end warrantless backdoor searches of Americans' calls, emails, texts and other communications that are routinely swept up under a program designed to spy on foreign targets. The sweeping authority has been clouded in secrecy, in part because the government refuses to answer essential questions about how it impacts Americans, including who can be targeted and how many American communications the government collects.
The USA RIGHTS Act has been endorsed by a broad coalition of 42 grassroots, civil liberties and government transparency advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, FreedomWorks and Demand Progress. Read the full list of endorsers here and statements of support here.
The Uniting and Strengthening America by Reforming and Improving the Government’s High-Tech Surveillance (USA RIGHTS) Act is also cosponsored in the Senate by: Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., Sen. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii., Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., Ted Poe, R-Texas and Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas.
Read a one-page summary of the legislation here.
The full text of the legislation is available here.