NSA Surveillance Reform: “No” Votes in U.S. Senate

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On November 18, 2014, the U.S. Senate failed to act on legislation that would have reduced the domestic surveillance ability of the National Security Agency.

The surveillance reform bill, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in May and was supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans, would have ended the current practice of gathering metadata from millions of American telephone subscribers. The bill would have also ended the government’s secret process of getting foreign intelligence surveillance court orders by appointing a special privacy advocate and making significant court orders public (neither of which are currently an option).

Computer monitors inside the NSA's Threat Operations Center. [Public domain image]
Computer monitors inside the NSA’s Threat Operations Center. [Public domain image]
The bill was lauded as a step forward in protecting the civil liberties of ordinary, law abiding Americans while defending American interests from foreign threats. It received support from the Obama administration and major tech companies — including Google, Apple and Yahoo.

Privacy advocates asserted the bulk collection of American phone records, which had been procedural for almost a decade and continues today, had done very little to thwart foreign terrorism threats and attacks. Earlier claims that the programs helped to prevent more than 50 attacks were rebuked last December when a panel assembled by the White House found that the program was not essential to preventing terrorism (and, in fact, had never done so).

More than a year and a half after the clandestine domestic surveillance programs were exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the U.S. Senate chose to block the progression of the only domestic surveillance reform legislation presented before it.

What follows is a list of the 42 elected officials who voted against moving forward on significant domestic surveillance reform, along with their social media handles and a link to send them a message on Twitter.

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[ Roll call source: U.S. Senate website ]