Access Announces Strong Opposition to Reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act

Washington D.C.  – Access today announced strong opposition to S. 1035, legislation introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that would extend expiring provisions of the USA Patriot Act through 2020.

“Leader McConnell’s legislation is not consistent with the unambiguous will of the people,” said Amie Stepanovich, U.S. Policy Manager at Access. “It has been more than two years since Edward Snowden revealed vast and consistent abuse of government surveillance authorities. In that time, we have learned that mass surveillance is ineffective, expensive, bad for business, and unlawful. This bill is a waste of time and energy. It is past time for Congress enact meaningful reforms.”

Without legislative action, three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act will expire on June 1, 2015. Expiring provisions include Section 215, which the National Security Agency has interpreted to authorize the bulk collection of all domestic telephone records. Other provisions include Section 6001, the so-called “lone wolf” provision, and Section 206, which authorizes roving wiretaps.

Senator McConnell invoked a rule to fast-track the legislation, bypassing a committee vote and sending it straight to the Senate Floor. He had previously condemned this same procedure last year when it was used to push forward reform proposals.

“The vast majority of Americans and people around the world insist on surveillance reform. And the majority of both the House and the Senate have voted in favor of reform to surveillance authorities. This is not leadership,” added Nathan White, Access’ Senior Legislative Manager.

Access has consistently worked for to reform existing surveillance authorities. Access is a member of the coalition working to oppose reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Access also supported the original USA FREEDOM Act introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) in October 2013, but pulled support after the bill was significantly watered down before passing out of the House of Representatives. Access continued to support Senator Leahy’s version of the bill in the Senate, which died in a failed cloture vote last October.