How the NSA reform proposals stack up

In the wake of the ongoing revelations about NSA surveillance, members of Congress have sprung into action to introduce more than a dozen bills to reform U.S. foreign intelligence laws, including measures directed at transparency, reporting, and collection prohibitions. You can download the super awesome infographic here.

The four proposals that have drawn the most attention are:

1. The White House Proposal
Recently announced, the White House proposal has not yet been committed to legislative language necessary for a bill. On March 27, 2014, the White House released a fact sheet on the proposal, and President Obama released a statement providing additional details.

The USA FREEDOM Act was introduced in the Senate and the House of Representatives on October 29, 2013.

3. The House Intelligence Proposal – FISA Transparency and Modernization Act

The FISA Transparency and Modernization Act was introduced to the U.S. House of Repersentatives on March 25, 2014.

4. The Senate Intelligence Proposal – FISA Improvements Act
The FISA Improvement Act was introduced to the U.S. Senate on October 31, 2014.

The International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance
Access has measured how these four proposals stack up against the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance (“the Principles”). In summary, the Principles are legality, legitimate aim, necessity, adequacy, proportionality, judicial authority, and due process. They also consider user notification, transparency, public oversight, integrity of communications and systems as well as safeguards, both for international cooperation and against illegitimate access. The full text of the Principles is available at:

Access’ review of the different legislative proposals demonstrated, unequivocally, that the USA FREEDOM Act offers the most comprehensive reforms to move U.S. policies and practices more in line with international law. In addition to halting bulk surveillance, the bill also would increase transparency, accountability, and help prevent against future abuse by providing for a special advocate for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, to operate independently from other interested government agencies.



White House:



FISA Improvements Act of 2013