A Bipartisan Effort to Protect Privacy

Senator Mike Lee
2014-11-20 13:31:13
US Senator for Utah, Mike Lee [image = lee.enews.senate.gov//images/user_images/eCard-header-mountaintop.jpg] * "If men were angles, no government would be necessary"* In 2013, the country learned that the government, specifically the National Security Agency, had been collecting and storing enormous amounts of information about American citizens, and that the data collection was not limited to those suspected of terrorist activity. Many were very concerned about how much and what kind of data was being collected and whether or not the information could be or had been abused by government officials. Today, proponents of the metadata program claim that it cannot be used to identify ordinary Americans. But earlier this year, researchers at Stanford University proved that the type of metadata collected under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act could be used to uncover a lot of information, including a person�s politics, what medications you�re on, where you go to church, and more. The USA Freedom Act is bipartisan legislation that ends bulk collection of metadata by the NSA, and it helps address the problem of the American government spying on its citizens without cause. It also improves transparency for the data NSA collects. It has the support of the intelligence community, the Department of Justice, civil liberties groups, the National Rifle Association, and tech companies. Opponents say it will impair our national security. They say this bill will keep our intelligence community from protecting us. What opponents of this bill fail to appreciate is that most Americans are deeply concerned about the collection of their personal information, and this bill is an opportunity to strike a good balance between protecting Americans' privacy and our national security. While I believe there are very good people working in our intelligence community, I think we should heed James Madison�s warning against giving unchecked power to men in Federalist 51: �If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. If framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.� I am disappointed that earlier this week the Senate voted against addressing this issue now. The provision of the PATRIOT Act authorizing this kind of data collection expires just after Memorial Day next year, and it�s important to adopt a compromise well ahead of this deadline that all interested parties can accept.
November 20, 2014

"If men were angles, no government would be necessary"

In 2013, the country learned that the government, specifically the National Security Agency, had been collecting and storing enormous amounts of information about American citizens, and that the data collection was not limited to those suspected of terrorist activity. Many were very concerned about how much and what kind of data was being collected and whether or not the information could be or had been abused by government officials.

Today, proponents of the metadata program claim that it cannot be used to identify ordinary Americans. But earlier this year, researchers at Stanford University proved that the type of metadata collected under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act could be used to uncover a lot of information, including a person�s politics, what medications you�re on, where you go to church, and more.

The USA Freedom Act is bipartisan legislation that ends bulk collection of metadata by the NSA, and it helps address the problem of the American government spying on its citizens without cause. It also improves transparency for the data NSA collects. It has the support of the intelligence community, the Department of Justice, civil liberties groups, the National Rifle Association, and tech companies.

Opponents say it will impair our national security. They say this bill will keep our intelligence community from protecting us.

What opponents of this bill fail to appreciate is that most Americans are deeply concerned about the collection of their personal information, and this bill is an opportunity to strike a good balance between protecting Americans' privacy and our national security.

While I believe there are very good people working in our intelligence community, I think we should heed James Madison�s warning against giving unchecked power to men in Federalist 51: �If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. If framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.�

I am disappointed that earlier this week the Senate voted against addressing this issue now. The provision of the PATRIOT Act authorizing this kind of data collection expires just after Memorial Day next year, and it�s important to adopt a compromise well ahead of this deadline that all interested parties can accept.

Washington, D.C. Office
316 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C., 20510
Phone: 202.224.5444
Fax: 202.228.1168
Salt Lake City
Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building
125 South State, Suite 4225
Salt Lake City, UT 84138
Phone: 801.524.5933
Fax: 801.524.5730
St. George
Office of Senator Michael S. Lee
285 West Tabernacle, Suite 200
St. George, UT 84770
Phone: 435.628.5514