Libertarian groups press McConnell on surveillance reform

Libertarian groups press McConnell on surveillance reform

A group of conservative and libertarian groups sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHow Cruz Supreme Court case could lead to unlimited anonymous election spending Trump and Biden should stop denigrating US elections The Armageddon elections to come MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday opposing his proposal to reauthorize portions of the Patriot Act without attaching surveillance reform.  

The coalition said avoiding reform would leave Congress “subordinate to the administration’s creative reinterpretation” of the law. 

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“Today’s domestic surveillance programs are just the tip of the iceberg compared to how the NSA could use its current authority to spy on Americans’ communications on the Internet and future technologies we haven’t even imagined,” the group wrote in the letter to McConnell and Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDemocrats say change to filibuster just a matter of time The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Connected Commerce Council - Biden faces reporters as his agenda teeters Biden hits one-year mark in dire straits MORE (D-Nev.). 

The letter was signed by 13 groups, including TechFreedom, R Street Institute, FreedomWorks and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. 

McConnell received huge pushback from privacy and civil liberties advocates last week, when he introduced a bill with a five-year reauthorization of sections of the Patriot Act, which provide legal support for the National Security Agency program that collects bulk telephone records of Americans. 

The letter advised the Senate “not to renew the expiring Patriot provisions, especially Section 215, without significant reform.” They argued the domestic surveillance program violates constitutional values, has proven costly and unnecessary, and hurts U.S. technology business abroad. 

The provisions expire on June 1, and McConnell used a procedural rule that would allow the bill to bypass committee review. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.), another sponsor of the bill, said the legislation is meant to offer a marker to set the parameters of the debate. 

The House is slated to introduce its own reauthorization, which comes with a host of reforms. It was originally scheduled to be marked up last week, but it was held up by concerns from the House Intelligence Committee.