Congress took on dual issues of Fourth Amendment and privacy rights in a bill meant to reform the Patriot Act to end the authority of NSA’s phone recording program, as well as, reform the FISA process, addressing the problems revealed by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz last fall.

The Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act “addresses two issues of concern – the Fourth Amendment rights embedded in the Constitution and the increasing level of awareness of the need for protection of the privacy rights of the individual, a very 21st Century issue,” said Steve Durbin, managing director of the Information Security Forum. “The challenge for us all both inside and outside of government is how to balance the rights of the individual in an increasingly cyber-enabled world in which cybercrime is becoming the norm with the needs of law enforcement to gather material for the protection of us all.” 

The legislation proposes to prohibit warrantless collection of cell site location and GPS data, browsing history and internet search history. It prevents the government from collecting information “for intelligence purposes that would violate the Fourth Amendment in the criminal context,” eliminates what was considered a vague “relevance” standard that the government used to justify bulk collection, puts a three-year limit on retaining” information that is not foreign intelligence or evidence of a crime and permits the FISA Court to review compliance with minimization procedures,” according to a release summarizing the bill.

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