President Barack Obama

The White House

Attorney General Eric Holder

United States Department of Justice

Majority Leader Harry Reid

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell

United States Senate

Speaker John Boehner

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi

United States House of Representatives

Chairman Patrick Leahy

Ranking Member Charles Grassley

Committee on the Judiciary

United States Senate

Chairman Bob Goodlatte

Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr.

Committee on the Judiciary

United States House of Representatives

Chairman Diane Feinstein

Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss

Senate Permanent Select Committee on


United States Senate

Chairman Mike Rogers

Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger

House Permanent Select Committee on


United States House of Representatives


April 1, 2014

We the undersigned are writing to express support for ending the government’s bulk collection of data about individuals. We strongly urge swift markup and passage of the USA FREEDOM Act (H.R.3361), which would enact appropriate surveillance reforms without sacrificing national security. This letter focuses on bulk collection, but overbroad NSA surveillance raises many more privacy and security issues that Congress and the Administration should address.

We appreciate that Congress and the administration are converging on consensus that the National Security Agency’s (NSA) bulk collection of telephone records must end. Among other things, legislation on bulk collection should:

The USA FREEDOM Act addresses each of these reforms, as well as others, by aiming to prohibit bulk collection of all data under Section 215 and 214 and the NSL statutes while preserving the requirement of prior court approval. Beyond bulk collection issues, the USA FREEDOM Act also includes strong transparency provisions for both government and private entities, and the bill closes a loophole that allows the government to search for the content of Americans’ communications without a court order. In contrast, the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act (H.R.4291) removes the requirement of prior court approval, and instead creates a new authority that gives intelligence agencies virtual subpoena power over Internet and telephone records. Additional questions have arisen regarding the scope of the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act: specifically whether the bill would actually prohibit bulk collection of all data, including financial information, and the extent to which the bill would enable surveillance of individuals who are broadly “associated” with a foreign power even if the individual is not in contact with or known to the foreign power. Accordingly, we oppose the FISA Transparency and Modernization Act in its current form, and we urge swift markup and passage of the USA FREEDOM Act.

Overbroad national security surveillance raises a host of constitutional, human rights, and practical concerns, and we urge Congress and the administration to address systemic reform. The trust of the American people and the global public cannot be regained with legislation that achieves only modest changes to discrete programs. We look forward to working with Congress and the administration to advance legislation and policies that preserve the integrity of the Internet and the free exercise of individual liberty and human rights.




Advocacy for Principled Action in Government

American Association of Law Libraries

American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression

American Civil Liberties Union

American Library Association

Amnesty International USA

Arab American Institute

Association of Research Libraries

Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Brennan Center for Justice

Center for Democracy & Technology

Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights

Citizens for Health

Competitive Enterprise Institute

The Constitution Project

CREDO Mobile

Cyber Privacy Project

Defending Dissent Foundation

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Freedom of the Press Foundation


Free Press Action Fund

Generation Opportunity

Human Rights Watch

Liberty Coalition

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

National Coalition Against Censorship

National Security Counselors

Open Technology Institute, New America Foundation

PEN American Center

R Street Institute


Republican Liberty Caucus

Rutherford Institute


World Privacy Forum

[1] Administration White Paper: Bulk Collection of Telephony Metadata Under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, Aug. 9, 2013, pg. 14, available at

[2] Id. at pg. 14. Although the White Paper distinguishes medical and library records from communications metadata, there is no guarantee that such information could not at some point be determined to meet the DOJ’s “relevance” standard.

[3] See Report on the National Security Agency’s Bulk Collection Programs for USA PATRIOT Act Reauthorization, Dept. of Justice, Feb. 2, 2011, pg. 3, The program was shut down because it was ineffective, not because the government ceded legal authority for the bulk collection of Internet metadata. See Glenn Greenwald, Spencer Ackerman, NSA collected Americans’ email records in bulk for two years under Obama, The Guardian, Jun. 27, 2013,

[4] Remarks of the President on Review of Signals Intelligence, The White House, Jan. 17, 2014,


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