President Obama's Fact Sheet on Phone Data Collection: Positive Step but Short on Facts & Reforms

Press Release
March 27, 2014

President Obama's Fact Sheet on Phone Data Collection: Positive Step but Short on Facts & Reforms

Contact: Gabe Cahn, gabe@westendstrategy.com, 202.776.7700

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - In response to the Obama administration's release of a fact sheet describing proposed changes to bulk collection of U.S. telephone data under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, Zeke Johnson, Director of Amnesty USA's Security & Human Rights Program, issued the following statement:

"The fact sheet is short on facts and short on reforms. President Obama must do more to respect the right to privacy in the U.S. and around the world. Current proposals regarding Section 215 fail to provide enough details and fall short of sufficiently safeguarding people's right to privacy. Among other weaknesses, it remains silent on the need for probable cause.

"The President should end the bulk collection of all communications, not just phone records; propose specific reforms to the FISA court; and disclose more details about the purpose and scope of US surveillance programs.

"He should publicly support the USA Freedom Act, a bipartisan bill that would help end bulk collection of U.S. communications dataunder Section 215 of the Patriot Act, as well as ensure FISC reforms and ensure greater transparency.

"Furthermore, even if meaningful reforms to Section 215 of the Patriot Act are passed, far more must be done to uphold the privacy rights of non-Americans. On that front, Section 702 of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act must be repealed and executive order 12333 must be amended.

"Any use of surveillance, anywhere in the world, must comport with international human rights law, including the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality."

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million members in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.