Mass surveillance and the bulk collection of metadata by the U.S. government pose serious threats to journalists in the U.S. and around the world, which is why the Committee to Protect Journalists today joined a wide coalition of privacy, human rights, technology, and trade groups calling on Congress and the Obama Administration to include certain elements in U.S. surveillance reform.
The group states that the government must put in place safeguards that protect privacy and user rights as well as transparency and accountability mechanisms for reporting on user data by governments and companies. The letter’s call for a “clear, strong, and effective end to bulk collection practices under the USA Patriot Act” would help protect the integrity of the journalistic process. As CPJ has underscored through our Right to Report in the Digital Age campaign, if journalists cannot communicate in confidence with sources, they cannot do their jobs. U.S. policy sets a global precedent and this is an opportunity for Washington to lead by example in enacting meaningful reforms that bring oversight and accountability to surveillance practices.
The Patriot Act, which serves as the legal basis for the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone metadata, is set to expire on June 1. Signatories to today’s letter include the Global Network Initiative–a coalition of technology companies, human rights groups, and Internet freedom advocates, of which CPJ is a founding member. Read the full letter here.