On April 21, 2015, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr introduced S.1035, a bill that would extend Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, also known as the “library records” or “business records” provision, through 2020. The bill would not make any reforms to Section 215 and is a pure reauthorization of this provision that is set to expire on June 1, 2015.
Section 215 has been used by the National Security Agency (NSA) to conduct mass surveillance, including the bulk collection of phone records. ARL, as well as many other organizations, have urged Congress and the Administration to pass reform that protects privacy and civil liberties. Minimum components to meaningful surveillance reform require ending bulk collection practices.
The upcoming expiration of Section 215 provides the opportunity to address the serious infringement on civil liberties caused by mass surveillance. Rather than endorsing and extending these practices for another five years, Congress should end bulk collection of records.