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21 Groups: Leahy's USA Freedom Bill Takes Steps for Transparency

Twenty groups joined OpenTheGovernment.org in a letter to Congressional leadership expressing their support for Senator Patrick Leahy's USA Freedom Act and asking for a floor vote on the bill

OpenTheGovernment.org did not support the USA Freedom Act passed by the House of Representatives, partly due to the removal of the bill's important transparency provisions. The Senate bill includes provisions requiring meaningful reporting on the number of individuals or unique accounts whose information is collected under surveillance authorities. 

Read more about the bill and reasons for the openness groups' support here

Broad Coalition Urges President to Oppose Cyber Bill

President Obama should speak out against S. 2588, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (“CISA”) of 2014, say thirty privacy, accountability, and transparency organizations, including OpenTheGovernment.org. CISA, which is headed to the Senate floor following a secret, closed-door markup, poses serious risks to government transparency and accountability, and fails to provide meaningful privacy protections, comprehensive cybersecurity solutions.  The Obama administration threatened to veto 2012's CISPA, a bill with privacy shortcomings similar to CISA.

Journalist Groups Urge President Obama to Increase Transparency

Thirty-seven groups, including OpenTheGovernment.org, joined the Society of Professional Journalists to urge President Obama to reverse the decades-long decline of press access to agencies and the executive offices. The groups note:

Open Government, Privacy, and Civil Liberties Groups Oppose CISA

On June 26th, 35 groups wrote to members of Congress urging them to oppose the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2014 (CISA). The bill would create a "gaping loophole in existing privacy law," allowin gthe government to ask private companies to "voluntarily" share sensitive information that could be used to investigate and prosecute government whistleblowers. 

Broad Coalition of Organizations Sign on in Support of FOIA Improvement Act of 2014

Fifty organizations representing a broad range of interests and crossing the political spectrum expressed support for the recently-introduced FOIA Improvement Act of 2014, S. 2520. The bill was introduced earlier this week by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), who have a long history of working together to develop and pass legislation that makes the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) a better tool for the public to obtain government records.

Groups Urge PCLOB to Recommend End to Backdoor 702 Searches

The Privacy and Liberties Oversight Board should follow the House of Representative's lead and recommend ending the searches conducted under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. According to the letter submitted by five groups to the PCLOB, "Such access should be granted only when the government has obtained an order from the FISA Court upon a showing of probable cause that the U.S.

Groups Call for Closure of NSA's Backdoor to Internet User's Data

OpenTheGovernment.org joined the New America Foundation and 22 non-profit and technology groups to lend support to the Massie-Lofgren amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act. The amendment would shut the NSA's backdoor to search the private data of Internet users by prohibiting the use of appropriated funds for the warrantless searches. The amendment also keeps funds from being used to insert security vulnerabilities into prodcuts for surveillance purposes.

Groups Support Schiff-Jones Drone Transparency Amendment

Today the House Rules Committee will decide which proposed amendments to the National Intelligence Authorization Act will be considered on the House floor. OpenTheGovernment.org and 18 other human rights, civil liberties and pro-transparency groups have written a letter to Congress in support of a bipartisan amendment by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) requiring annual reports on the number of militants and civilians killed in drone strikes. 

Groups Urge Restoration of USA Freedom Act Transparency Provisions

OpenTheGovernment.org and thirteen other organizations wrote to the House and Senate leadership yesterday, asking them to restore the USA FREEDOM Act’s government transparency provisions before final passage of the bill. The letter concludes, “[w]e recognize that some compromises were necessary to move any surveillance bill to the floor. But they increase the importance of restoring the transparency provisions of the original USA FREEDOM Act, to verify that the NSA actually ends bulk collection instead of finding new loopholes to exploit.

Groups Call on Holder to Follow Court Order, be Open about Targeted Killing Program

Thirty organizations representing a broad range of interests have joined to urge Attorney General Holder to decline to appeal a recent federal court ruling that would provide the public with critical information about the legal analysis underpinning the targeted killing program.

The Classified Section

Check out our new blog, The Classified Section, for analysis of national security secrecy.

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