The NSA shut down its bulk phone record collection program yesterday, more than two years since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposed the program to journalists and prompted a global debate about surveillance technology.
The program has been marked to sunset since Congress passed the USA Freedom Act earlier this year. But in light of the terror attacks that rocked Paris earlier this month, many hawkish lawmakers have attempted to hold off on shutting it down.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced on Sunday that the program shut down as scheduled.
As the program came to a halt, privacy advocates took a victory lap on Monday. Here are those hot takes.
Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon wrote:
“This program’s very existence was concealed from the American public for over a decade. Across two administrations, senior officials from US intelligence agencies and the Justice Department repeatedly made false and misleading statements that concealed the truth about what they were doing. These officials relied on a secret body of law to justify the mass surveillance of the American people. Fortunately, in America sooner or later the truth always comes out. When Americans found out about this secret, unconstitutional surveillance two years ago, they were rightfully outraged. And they made their voices heard. The result was historic reform legislation that required the government to shut this program down.”
“Today both the safety and Constitutional rights of American citizens are more secure thanks to the USA Freedom Act. Not only did the USA Freedom Act strengthen the Fourth Amendment rights of all Americans by ending the bulk collection of personal data, but it also better ensured national security by closing a loophole that prevented the government from tracking foreign terrorists once they entered the United States.”
“The implementation of the USA Freedom Act represents government at its best: it is the product of a robust public debate and intense bipartisan negotiations dedicated to finding a way to protect our Constitutional rights while enhancing the safety of our country. The bipartisan law ends the bulk collection of telephone metadata once and for all, enhances civil liberties protections, increases transparency for both American businesses and the government, and provides national security officials targeted tools to keep America safe.”
The implementation of the Freedom Act highlights that in a government marked by gridlock, there have been many major policy decisions that impact the tech industry from Washington this year. After little happened for the industry last year, 2015 brought significant reforms to the government surveillance and made net neutrality the law of the land.