Our best shot in a generation at reforming government surveillance

Last week, over 30 civil liberties groups, Republican and Democratic members of Congress launched our best shot in a generation at reforming government surveillance: The Government Surveillance Reform Act (GSRA). We need your help to write your member of Congress, and urge them to cosponsor GSRA, and to vote against any reauthorization of government surveillance powers without major reforms.

This is what's happening. A major law authorizing the government's warrantless surveillance of U. S. persons ("FISA Section 702") is about to lapse. Under this authority, every year, the U. S. government queries hundreds of thousands of U. S. persons' communications without a warrant. Our GSRA reauthorizes FISA Section 702, but simultaneously prohibits the warrantless querying of U. S. person communications under any authority (with narrow exceptions), and implements broad privacy protections in a host of areas. With GSRA, it would become easier to litigate constitutional claims against surveillance, and much harder for the government to hide that evidence being used against you in court that was derived from their mass surveillance programs. It also stops the government from buying its way around Fourth Amendment protections, by requiring a warrant for data they acquire from data brokers, that would need a warrant if they were acquiring it directly. In short, GSRA is the best surveillance reform opportunity since Restore The Fourth's founding back in 2013.

The administration, like every administration, is opposing reform. They're even describing a bill that they haven't read yet, that requires them to get a warrant in most cases before querying U. S. persons' communications, as a "red line" - as if spying on people in the name of national security mattered more than protecting people's rights. Surveillance hawks in Congress are even trying to sneak a reauthorization of Section 702, without reforms, into "continuing resolutions" or into the "must-pass" National Defense Authorization Act, all to avoid a real Congressional debate that they suspect the administration will lose, on real reforms to powers that they know people don't like.

We never thought ten years ago, when Restore The Fourth began, that we would get this far, with this much support in Congress. Let's see if Congress can for once pass something careful, thoughtful and bipartisan, that actually restores our rights. In this key moment, please email your member of Congress today!

And if you'd like to find out how your member of Congress has voted on government surveillance and privacy issues, check out our scorecard at Decide The Future!

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