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UPDATE: A gutted version of the USA Freedom Act passed in the House on May 22. Because that bill removed many of the privacy protections that were present in earlier forms of the bill, the Free Press Action Fund did not support it.

WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday, members of Congress introduced the much-anticipated USA Freedom Act. This bipartisan and bicameral legislation would address National Security Agency abuses that have come to light in the last few months.

The bill would curtail the NSA’s misuse of the Patriot Act and related provisions, specifically preventing the agency from continuing to collect data on all phone calls made in the United States, and on millions of lawful communications between people in the U.S. and abroad. It would, however, permit continued government collection of information about the targets of investigations, their associates and their activities. 

The legislation would also close down the NSA’s "back-door" warrantless searches of Americans' private information. Furthermore, it would improve transparency and oversight for surveillance programs by creating a special advocate for civil liberties within the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court system.

Free Press Action Fund Policy Director Matt Wood made the following statement:

"The NSA's guilty-until-proven-innocent standard has been a disaster. Conducting suspicion-less spying on such a massive scale violates our basic civil liberties and our rights to communicate. The USA Freedom Act restores the balance between privacy and security, preserving investigative powers while reining in unwarranted bulk collections.

"The Patriot Act’s authors did not intend that law to undo the Constitution and centuries-old legal protections. Passing this new bill would help repair the damage done by NSA overreaches that threaten our freedom of expression and association.

"We thank the lead sponsors of the bill, Senators Patrick Leahy and Mike Lee and Representatives Jim Sensenbrenner and John Conyers, for their efforts thus far and those still to come. We also thank Senators Ron Wyden, Mark Udall and Richard Blumenthal, Representatives Justin Amash, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, and Jerrold Nadler, and the dozens more who've reached across the aisle and stood together to fight these abuses."

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