Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Votes to End “Big Brother” Spying on Americans

May 13, 2015
Press Release
USA Freedom Act Stops Dragnet Collection of Phone Calls, Emails

Bill Restricts Government’s Ability to Pry into Personal Records of Americans

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-FL, today voted for the USA Freedom Act, which ends the National Security Agency’s (NSA) indiscriminate collection of Americans’ personal information. The measure also adds essential oversight and transparency to government surveillance programs without weakening national security.

“I have been a strong and consistent opponent of government spying on ordinary Americans who are not under investigation” said Buchanan, a member of the Congressional Privacy Caucus.  “Our strength as a nation flows from the values and freedoms laid out in the Constitution, including the right against unreasonable searches and seizures.  The USA Freedom Act institutes long-overdue reforms to protect the privacy and liberties of the American people.”

Over the past two years, revelations regarding the NSA’s unprecedented invasion into the personal lives of American citizens include:   

  • The collection of telephone records of hundreds of millions of Americans not under suspicion or investigation.
  • The extraction of personal information from Internet giants such as Google and Facebook.
  • The storing of hundreds of millions of email address books and instant messages from people around the world – many belonging to U.S. citizens.

The House passage of the USA Freedom Act comes just one week after a federal court ruled that the agency’s warrantless collection of Americans’ phone records is illegal. The 97-page decision from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals represents the most significant legal blow to NSA spying powers to date.

Specifically, the USA Freedom Act would institute the following NSA reforms:

  • End the bulk collection of American’s communications records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act.
  • Reform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) by creating new and more robust reporting requirements to ensure that Congress is aware of actions by the FISC and intelligence community as a whole.
  • Increase transparency by requiring the government to make annual or semiannual public reports estimating the total number of Americans that were subject to FISA orders authorizing electronic surveillance, pen/trap devices, and access to business records.

The bill, which revises controversial sections of the Patriot Act, is supported by several privacy rights groups including the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Open Technology Institute, Human Rights Watch, the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, Tech Freedom and the Constitution Project.

A coalition of leading privacy groups recently gave Buchanan an ‘A’ grade on its first annual “Stand Against Spying” scorecard  for his actions in Congress to reform the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

Attached is a detailed section-by-section summary of the USA Freedom Act.