Senators, Google push for transparency at surveillance court

The legislation and the request from Google follow news reports of massive NSA suveillance of U.S. residents

By , IDG News Service |  Internet

The group of senators sponsoring the surveillance court declassification legislation also called for more transparency in the process.

"This bipartisan amendment establishes a cautious and reasonable process for declassification consistent with the rule of law," Lee said in a statement. "It will help ensure that the government makes sensitive decisions related to surveillance by applying legal standards that are known to the public. Particularly where our civil liberties are at stake, we must demand no less of our government."

Last December, Merkley introduced the bill as an amendment to the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act, the bill that authorizes the surveillance court. The bill would declassify the rulings related to provisions in the FISA Amendments Act and the Patriot Act used to gain access to Verizon phone records and the communications of customers of nine tech companies, he said.

The amendment failed at the time, but had the support of 37 senators.

A U.S. Department of Justice spokesman didn't immediately respond to questions about the legislation or Google's request.

Other sponsors of the legislation include Senators Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat; Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican; Mark Begich, an Alaska Democrat; Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat; Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat; and Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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