Activists later added that, given the “government's history of twisted legal interpretations, this language can't be relied on to protect our freedoms.”
In a Wednesday blog post, Kevin Bankston, the policy director for the Open Technology Institute, addressed other major grievances with the bill, including weakened transparency reporting provisions for private companies dealing with government requests for data.
Of note, the most recent version of the bill also does not take a stance against a contested allowance of FISA, which allows the NSA to scan the contents of communications about surveillance targets (as opposed to just communications that specifically come from or to targets), Bankston wrote.
On Wednesday, Bankston provided the latest markup of the bill (PDF), which was slated to be presented before lawmakers the following day.
In a turn of events, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. – who introduced the bipartisan legislation alongside Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wisc., last October – even released a statement expressing his disappointment with the bill.
Leahy said that even though the bill did “not include some of the meaningful reforms contained in the original USA Freedom Act,” he would continue to fight for necessary privacy inclusions as the legislation moves forward.
“I will continue to push for these important reforms when the Senate Judiciary Committee considers the USA Freedom Act next month,” Leahy said.