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Sen. Franken Backs Bipartisan Senate Bill to Boost Transparency over Government Surveillance Programs

Franken’s Surveillance Transparency Bill Served as Model for Similar Provisions in USA FREEDOM Act

Monday, June 30, 2014

Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) threw his support behind a bipartisan bill in the Senate that would bring several reforms to key government surveillance programs. The USA FREEDOM Act, expected to come up for debate in the Senate in the near future, includes transparency provisions modeled after Sens. Franken and Dean Heller's (R-Nev.) Surveillance Transparency Act of 2014.

"The government must give proper weight to both keeping America safe and protecting Americans' privacy. But when Americans lack the most basic information about key surveillance programs, they have no way of knowing whether we're striking the right balance.

"But right now, Americans don't have that basic information, which is why I will co-sponsor the Senate USA FREEDOM Act when the Senate reconvenes next week. And while I support the current version of the bill, I want to be clear that I can and will vote against any bill that undercuts transparency, or that undercuts any of the other oversight and accountability provisions that are necessary for a successful surveillance reform effort.

"I'm proud that the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2014, which I introduced with Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, was a model for the transparency provisions in the Senate USA FREEDOM Act. But I was extremely disappointed that the version of this bill that passed the House gutted most of these transparency requirements, particularly the government reporting provisions. I will be pushing to make sure those key provisions get added back in as the legislation moves forward.

"I look forward to working with Sen. Heller, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley of Iowa to make sure we get this done right."

Sens. Franken and Heller introduced the Surveillance Transparency Act last year to expand and improve ongoing government reporting about programs under the PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that have been the subject of controversy. You can read more about it here.

Sen. Franken, Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, is a strong advocate of increased transparency in government surveillance programs. In 2011 and 2012, he cosponsored legislation to ensure greater oversight and transparency around federal surveillance programs. When these measures did not pass, Sen. Franken voted against reauthorizing key NSA surveillance programs created under the PATRIOT Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act.

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