Senator Ron Wyden says he and a colleague will soon introduce a bill that would limit the government’s ability to collect data on Americans. Wyden and Colorado Senator Mark Udall have leveled a steady stream of criticism at the NSA and other agencies using data dragnets.
The bill is not finalized yet, but the two senators said in a joint statement they’ll aim to curb the mass collection of phone records by the NSA. This week, when published reports revealed a major data harvest of Verizon phone records. Wyden said he’d known about it but, as a member of the Intelligence Committee, was prevented from speaking. But he added he’d been deeply concerned for some time.
The Wyden-Udall bill would require that someone’s phone records would not be obtained unless agencies could demonstrate a link to terrorism or espionage.
Wyden is also co-sponsoring a bill that calls for publishing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, or so-called FISA court rulings.
NSA Director Keith Alexander testified to the Senate Appropriations Committee that the records prevented or disrupted dozens of terrorist plots. He considers the data collection legal under the PATRIOT Act.