[Congressional Record Volume 161, Number 79 (Thursday, May 21, 2015)]
[Pages S3202-S3212]


                            USA FREEDOM Act

  Mr. FRANKEN. Mr. President, I rise today to speak in support of the 
USA FREEDOM Act of 2015. I am a proud cosponsor of this bicameral, 
bipartisan bill which brings much-needed reform to the Federal 
Government's surveillance programs, including an end to the bulk data 
collection program that the intelligence community has said is not 
necessary, that the public has said they don't support, and that the 
Second Circuit has ruled as unlawful.

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  I am particularly proud to have developed the bill's transparency 
provisions with my friend Senator Dean Heller of Nevada. We are greatly 
indebted to Senator Lee and to Senator Leahy for their leadership and 
their tireless work.
  Americans understand, as I do, that our job here is to strike an 
appropriate balance, making sure, on the one hand, that we are 
safeguarding our national security, without trampling on our citizens' 
fundamental privacy rights, on the other hand. But the public cannot 
know if we succeed in striking that balance if they do not even have 
the most basic information about our major surveillance programs. That 
is why my focus has been on transparency, because I want to make sure 
that the American people are able to decide for themselves whether we 
are getting this right.
  I support the USA FREEDOM Act because it moves us in the right 
direction on all of these fronts. On June 1, several national security 
authorities will expire. The House acted responsibly and passed USA 
FREEDOM, a bill that reflects the combined efforts and agreement of 
Republicans and Democrats, members of the intelligence and law 
enforcement communities, and advocates for privacy and civil liberties, 
as well as members of the tech sector and business communities.
  This legislation ensures that the necessary authorities continue in 
force through 2019, and it makes important reforms that will actually 
improve national security. You do not need to take my word for that. 
The Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General have 
told us, in no uncertain terms, that we ought to pass the USA FREEDOM 
Act and promptly.
  Yet some of my colleagues are attempting to present us with a choice 
between reauthorization of the soon-to-expire authorities with no 
reform whatsoever or complete expiration of those authorities. That is 
profoundly unfortunate, because we have a compromise bill that has 
overwhelming support and was overwhelmingly approved by the House of 
Representatives by a vote of 338 to 88.
  It draws broad-based support from business, from civil society, and 
within the government. I believe that the only thing that would stop 
this bill from garnering similar strong bipartisan support here in the 
Senate is if Republican leaders who oppose this bill pressure my 
Republican colleagues to filibuster. I really hope that does not 
happen. I hope it does not happen because USA FREEDOM's reforms 
represent real and meaningful progress. The bill ends the old program 
for the bulk collection of telephone metadata, which, according to 
reports discussed at a hearing last year, principally gathered call 
records from landlines. It replaces that program with a more targeted 
approach that permits the collection of call detail records, including 
prospective collection of those records. You get a warrant, and you 
collect those prospectively, based on the government's reasonable, 
articulable suspicion of a link to international terrorism.
  Now, I believe that is a much more sensible approach. I know that 
some of my colleagues disagree. Last November, one of my colleagues 
suggested that bulk collection is preferable to a targeted approach 
because American's privacy would be at risk if the government were 
``going to have to go to those companies and ask for the data.''
  But of course, no matter what, we have to go to the companies and ask 
them for the data. The records at issue here are the phone company's 
business records. That is what they are. I should also note that those 
companies have both legal and business reasons for why they retain and 
protect these records as they do, from the potential for billing 
disputes to commercial analytics to regulatory concerns.
  The FCC regulations require them to hold on to telephone call records 
for 18 months. None of that has changed. It bears emphasizing that the 
relationship USA FREEDOM calls for between phone companies and the 
government is nothing new. Our Nation's law enforcement and 
intelligence agencies have long worked with phone companies to obtain 
specific records, either historic or prospective records, when 
conducting domestic criminal investigations or carrying out sensitive 
national security investigations such as FISA wiretaps.
  So we have been doing this for a long time. The intelligence 
community, national security, law enforcement experts, and American 
businesses, not to mention the House of Representatives, all understand 
that we have to strike the right balance. We need to safeguard our 
national security, but we need to do it in ways that do not unduly 
tread on privacy and civil liberties.
  Leaders across these different public and private sectors have 
managed to come together to strike that balance in the USA FREEDOM Act. 
That is where my work with Senator Heller comes in. We recognized that 
when the public lacks even a rough sense of the scope of the 
government's surveillance programs, they have no way of knowing if the 
government is getting that balance right. So there needs to be more 
  Since the Snowden revelations came to light 2 years ago, a steady 
stream of news reports has provided details about NSA programs that 
collect information about both foreign nationals and the American 
people. Despite these disclosures, it remains impossible for the 
American people to get even a basic sense of the real size and scope of 
these programs. Americans still don't know the number of people whose 
information has been collected under these programs. They have no sense 
of the extent to which U.S. persons are affected and, particularly, 
have no way of knowing how often the government has searched that 
information, such as call detail records of Americans. Senator Heller 
and I crafted transparency provisions to make sure Americans get that 
kind of information. That way the American people can better judge the 
government's surveillance programs for themselves.

  Under USA FREEDOM, the government will be required to issue detailed 
annual reports for each of the surveillance authorities at issue. 
Importantly, the government will have to tell the public how many 
people have had their information collected, and for certain 
authorities--like those permitting the targeted collection of call 
detail records or the communications of foreigners abroad--the 
government will also have to say how many times it has run searches for 
Americans' data.
  The USA FREEDOM Act doesn't just require the government to be more 
transparent. We also make it possible for American businesses to 
provide their customers with more information about what they are asked 
to turn over to the government. This is not only good for transparency, 
it is good for our economy. It has been estimated that the Snowden 
revelations are costing American companies billions of dollars because 
people have lost trust in those companies, often assuming that all 
companies are handing over all of their information to the government.
  So by allowing companies to report the size and scope of the 
government's requests, the public can get a better sense of what 
information is actually being turned over, and the bill makes clear 
that a company that has not received any national security requests 
from the government is free to say so.
  All of this will calm fears, both here and abroad, and allow American 
companies to better compete with their foreign counterparts.
  The provisions Senator Heller and I wrote will expand the options 
that companies have to issue their own transparency reports and allow 
companies to issue those reports more quickly. But we also listened to 
the intelligence community to make sure we were striking the right 
balance and ensuring that ongoing investigations are not jeopardized by 
additional transparency.
  Now, look, to get the broad, bipartisan support we needed, Senator 
Heller and I had to compromise a great deal. We didn't get everything 
we wanted when we initially negotiated our provisions last year, and we 
had to compromise further still this year, particularly with regard to 
government reporting under section 702, which authorizes the 
collection, for intelligence purposes, of communications of foreign 
persons abroad. I am disappointed the bill doesn't include all of the 
requirements we agreed on last year and that were included in the 
Senate bill last Congress, which had 58 votes.
  But I am committed to pressing my colleagues to revisit this issue in 

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future--hopefully before the sunset of section 702--in 2017. That, of 
course, is the Internet traffic of foreign persons abroad who are 
suspected of being terrorists.
  But in the meantime, the good news is that after all the give-and-
take, our provisions that did get included in the bill will usher in a 
new era of transparency about our Nation's surveillance agencies. They 
will allow the American public to see--on an annual basis--whether the 
government really makes good on its promise to end bulk collection, and 
they will give those of us in Congress important tools as we work to 
continually improve our country's laws.
  The transparency provisions are an essential part of USA FREEDOM, and 
the bill overall is a step in the right direction for reforming our 
Nation's intelligence laws. It is a step that the House has already 
taken on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis. It is a step that the 
Senate should take as well.
  I yield the floor.