Press Releases

Demand Progress Decries Passage of USA FREEDOM Act

Finds some solace in rejection of amendments to further weaken it.

Media contact: Mark Stanley, 202.681.7582
Email: [email protected]

The following statement may be attributed to Demand Progress Executive Director David Segal:

“The Senate just voted to reinstitute certain lapsed surveillance authorities — and that means that USA Freedom actually made Americans less free.”

“Demand Progress opposes the USA Freedom Act, as it does not end mass surveillance and could be interpreted by the Executive branch as authorizing activities the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has found to be unlawful. Even since the House passed the same bill in May, the political landscape has dramatically changed. Three provisions of the USA Patriot Act have expired. A federal court held an Executive branch surveillance practice under Section 215 to violate federal law. The Justice Department Inspector General concluded telephone metadata collection has not been essential in cracking major cases and was conducted by the FBI in a way that improperly infringed upon privacy.”

“All of this gives civil liberties advocates new leverage to push for greater reforms. These reforms include closing the ‘backdoor search loophole’ under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, addressing the use of Executive orders for surveillance, providing greater transparency and equity around operations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, protecting whistleblowers, ending secret law, reforming the Intelligence committees, and strengthening congressional oversight of national security.”

“Yet we take some solace in the Senate’s rejection of amendments to further weaken the bill, and that Section 215 was—ever so briefly—allowed to sunset. This indicates the Senate no longer will quite so readily be stampeded by the most strident of national security hardliners who have held sway for a decade-and-a-half. A modicum of reason has returned to the upper chamber.”

“With recent votes showing the strength and growing number of members of Congress interested in protecting the Constitution and advancing the cause of freedom, members have the opportunity—and the political leverage—to achieve far-reaching, meaningful changes to surveillance programs, and the chance to assert America’s strong commitment to constitutional rights. We call on Congress to be fearless in its pursuit of genuine, far-reaching reform.”

Demand Progress has helped lead efforts to rein in mass surveillance over the last two years, including by:

Organizing more than 130,000 phone calls to Congress through The Day We Fight Back,, and otherwise.

Organizing more than 1.8 million emails to Congress, through The Day We Fight Back,, and otherwise.

Organizing dozens of meetings across the country between constituents and their lawmakers and/or staffers.