Dear Mr. [Name Redacted]:
Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding the recent revelations of data sharing between Verizon and the National Security Agency (NSA).
According to documents released in the press, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sought permission to collect data on cell phone use of Verizon customers as part of a classified program aimed at preventing acts of terror in the United States. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which oversees requests for classified electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence gathering, approved at least one request that Verizon provide the FBI and National Security Agency (NSA) with select call log data for Verizon customers. The FBI claims the data collected and shared includes routing information such as originating and receiving phone numbers, individual mobile subscriber numbers, calling card numbers, and the time and duration of each call. It does not include content of the call, or the personal location or identification information of customers.
The FISC was created in 1978, and is composed of 11 federal judges. Its authority to grant access to business records was established under the USA PATRIOT Act and was extended in 2008 and 2012.
Thank you also for sharing your concerns regarding the National Security Agency’s (NSA) data collection program “PRISM.”
The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) recently confirmed reports that the NSA has used a classified computer system known as PRISM to collect foreign intelligence information. The system contains communications of foreign citizens located abroad that have been collected by internet service providers and delivered to the NSA for analysis. The DNI also released a public fact sheet about the program. It is available at: http://1.usa.gov/1bhNPkX.
PRISM’s information gathering falls under procedures that were passed in the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (FAA) and extended by the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012. While the internet service providers subject to information requests have not been confirmed, the DNI stated that all information was provided after the law enforcement and intelligence agencies’ requests were approved by the FISC.
I fully support efforts to protect our nation, but such efforts must not compromise the very foundation that makes our country great; our civil liberties and Constitutional rights. Many questions, including the breadth of the information gathering, the extent of information about U.S. citizens that was gathered, and the length of time that the information was kept on file, must be addressed.
It's critical that we find a balance between security and freedom. Protecting our national security is critically important, and we still need to learn more, but any sort of overbroad surveillance is cause for serious concern. I voted against the Patriot Act in 2001, the FISA amendments in 2008, and the extension of Patriot Act provisions in 2011. I will continue to support measures that protect our nation from terrorism while also reforming the most dangerous parts of this law to protect our civil liberties and constitutional rights.
I will continue to closely monitor this situation as additional details about both incidents come to light. Should any legislation related to intelligence gathering and our civil liberties come before the Senate, I will keep your views in mind. Thank you again for getting in touch with me.
United States Senator