Press Releases

House shuts backdoor on mass surveillance

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Washington, Jun 20 | Peter Whippy ((202) 225-3072) | comments
The House of Representatives voted late last night to shut backdoors used to access Americans’ private electronic data by a vote of 293-123.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House of Representatives voted late last night to shut backdoors used to access Americans’ private electronic data by a vote of 293-123. The amendment to H.R. 4870, the Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, prohibits the search of government databases for information pertaining to U.S. citizens without a warrant and excludes the National Security Agency (NSA) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from requiring the placement of surveillance “backdoors” in products. It was sponsored by U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R- Wis.) Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)
 
“Our amendment to H.R. 4870 further defends the constitutional rights we voted to protect when we passed the USA FREEDOM Act and reclaims an important provision stripped from the original bill,” said Sensenbrenner. “Both are positive, but not final, steps in our efforts to reform the administration’s surveillance authorities and protect Americans’ civil liberties. This amendment clearly states that the Fourth Amendment means what it says and there should be no shortcuts around it. I am pleased it passed the House with strong bipartisan support and I thank Representatives Lofgren and Massie for working with me on this important issue.” 
 
“This was the first definitive vote Congress has held on the 4th amendment and the NSA, and last night the House stood up for the American people and the Constitution – that is something we can all celebrate,” said Lofgren. “This amendment is a worthwhile step forward and will make a meaningful difference, but our work is not done. I trust that our colleagues in the Senate will take note of this overwhelming support for the Constitution as they take the next step in this debate.”
 
"Americans are sick of being spied on,” said Massie. “The current state of American surveillance meets neither the expectations of our constituents nor the standards required by our Constitution. Our government searches vast amounts of data—including the content of emails and telephone calls—without individualized suspicion or probable cause. I am encouraged by this bipartisan effort to shut surveillance backdoors and ensure that Americans' privacy rights are protected."
 
The amendment was supported by a broad coalition of privacy and civil liberties groups as well as tech companies, including, among others, New America Foundation’s Open Technology Group, the American Civil Liberties Union, FreedomWorks, Campaign for Liberty, the Liberty Coalition, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Google, Demand Progress, and the Center for Democracy and Technology.
 
Other cosponsors include: Reps. Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Lofgren (D-Calif.), Massie (R-Ky.), Conyers (D-Mich.), Poe (R-Texas), Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Jordan (R-Ohio), O'Rourke (D-Texas), Amash (R-Mich.), Holt (D-N.J.), Nadler (D-N.Y.), Petri (R-Wis.), DelBene (D- Wash.), Farenthold (R-Texas), Butterfield (N. Car.) and Sanford (S. Car.).
 
The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4870, the Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Act, today by a vote of 340-73.
 
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