R Street joins broad coalition to reform government surveillance
The launch comes as privacy advocates count down to the scheduled expiration of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, currently set for June 1, 2015.
“Those of us steeped in American surveillance law long have known the scope of government foreign-intelligence surveillance was theoretically unlimited,” said Mike Godwin, R Street’s director of innovation policy. “What many more of us learned in the last two years is that, thanks to technological advance, there are no practical limits on government surveillance, even of American citizens unconnected to national security threats. The only workable way to limit what the government gets to do in capturing our communications is to reform the law, starting with Section 215.”
For years, the federal government has been collecting millions of its citizens’ call records, regardless of whether any of these citizens is perceived as a terrorist threat. Section 215 was reinterpreted in secrecy, largely by the intelligence community and without input from any consumer or public interest group. The coming expiration offers Congress the opportunity to find ways to ensure Americans’ safety, while maintaining their fundamental privacy rights.
“We endorse this path of reform not because we can guarantee we’ll be safer from foreign threats with more limits on government powers, but because we know that a government without meaningful checks on its powers is dangerous,” said Godwin. “We accept as adults that life with liberty is not risk-free and insist that our government be limited and accountable in how it monitors us. The time for reform is now, and this Congress is our best chance to put the breaks on the runaway surveillance train.”
Read more about the coalition at fight215.org.