Washington, D.C. (May 22, 2014) — U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-2) on Thursday voted against a fundamentally altered version of the USA Freedom Act, which was drastically changed in a deal struck behind closed doors earlier this week. The original bill, which Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard co-sponsored, ended all bulk collection of personal data and only allowed the government to request personal data using “specific” terms. The legislation passed today allows the government to continue to obtain bulk personal data without having to target individuals specifically.
“The USA Freedom Act I voted against today is a far cry from the legislation I co-sponsored, and does not rein in the bulk collection of our personal information – in fact, it does the opposite, ” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “While proponents claim the bill does end some bulk collection, the fact is that it still allows the government to obtain innocent Americans’ personal data, to include phone and email data. Instead of targeting specific individuals, the bill would allow the government to collect data with very broad search terms like an entire area code, an email with a key word, or a whole state or region of the country. That kind of data collection is not ‘specific’ at all; it is the opposite of specific, leaving the door open for continued overreach and abuse. Ultimately, our objective is to keep our country and people safe. This is not a choice between civil liberties and national security. We still have yet to hear of a single example of how national security has been strengthened by allowing bulk data collection.
“We have a responsibility to do better as we strike the balance between national security and upholding the values that make our country strong.”
Gabbard has long advocated to end the overreach of the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of innocent Americans’ personal data.