What Should, and Should Not, Be in NSA Surveillance Reform Legislation

Following a wave of polls showing a remarkable turn of public opinion, Congress has finally gotten serious about bringing limits, transparency and oversight to the NSA’s mass surveillance apparatus aimed at Americans.

While we still believe that the best first step is a modern Church Committee, an independent, public investigation and accounting of the government’s surveillance programs that affect Americans, members of Congress seem determined to try to enact fixes now. Almost a dozen bills have already been introduced or will be introduced in the coming weeks.

While we’re also waiting to see what the various bills will look like before endorsing anything, here’s—in broad strokes—what we’d like to see, and what should be avoided or opposed as a false response. We know full well that the devil is in the details when it comes to legislation, so these are not set in stone and they aren’t exhaustive. But as the debate continues in Congress, here are some key guideposts.


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