Privacy group yanks support of Patriot Act fix

A major privacy group is pulling its support of a prominent bill meant to reform the Patriot Act provision that enable the National Security Agency to conduct warrantless bulk surveillance on Americans.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said Monday that it is withdrawing its support for the USA Freedom Act — unless lawmakers add more reform provisions to the bill — in light of a court ruling that called the NSA program illegal — unless lawmakers add more reform provisions to the bill.

“Pending those improvements, EFF is withdrawing our support of the bill," the group said in a blog post. "We’re urging Congress to roll the draft back to the stronger and meaningful reforms included in the 2013 version of USA Freedom and affirmatively embrace the Second Circuit’s opinion on the limits of Section 215."

The group is asking for lawmakers to add provisions to the bill that introduce reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and that the government be required to obtain additional permission to collect data associated with the phone numbers originally under surveillance.

They also asked for other additions to the bill drawn from the 2013 version of the legislation.

The group said that its decision to pull back its support for the bill was prompted by a federal court decision that found that the NSA program “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized.”

“Members like Senators Leahy and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate panel advances Trump's CIA nominee Doug Jones to oppose Haspel as CIA chief This week: Trump heads to Capitol Hill MORE and Representatives Jim SensenbrennerFrank (Jim) James SensenbrennerLawmakers question FBI director on encryption Doug Collins to run for House Judiciary chair Lawmakers renew call for end to 'black budget' secrecy MORE, Robert Goodlatte, and John Conyers should be applauded for working incredibly hard to get the USA Freedom Act through Congress,” EFF said in its blog post. “Yet as a result of the Second Circuit decision, the USA Freedom Act's modest changes appear even smaller compared to the now judicially recognized problems with the mass collection of Americans’ records.”