December 18, 2013

Wyden Statement on Report from the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) issued the following statement regarding today’s report from the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies.

“I was particularly pleased with the Review Group’s finding that the information collected by the NSA bulk phone records collection program ‘was not essential to preventing attacks and could readily have been obtained in a timely manner using conventional section 215 orders.’* I have been arguing for two years that the program’s effectiveness has been overstated.  This panel of surveillance experts came to the same conclusion.

There is a lot in this report for a reformer to like. The panel recommends ending the bulk collection of Americans’ phone records by the government and strengthening legal protections for Americans’ personal information. It recommends closing the “backdoor searches” loophole in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.  It also proposes significant reforms to the FISA Court, including the creation of a civil liberties advocate to argue major cases before the court.

When combined with the U.S. district court ruling on the likely unconstitutionality of bulk phone collection earlier this week, this report will help to galvanize support for surveillance reforms both with the public and within Congress. It is my hope that the President takes the advice of this panel and supports meaningful surveillance reforms that will protect both privacy and national security.”

* Report and Recommendations of the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies: page 104