Citing privacy and civil liberties concerns, Sen. Bernie Sanders today voted against legislation to extend a controversial domestic spying program.
Sanders said the measure shifting the bulk collection and storage of phone records from the government to private telecommunications companies is better than a provision in the USA Patriot Act which it would replace. The bill, however, still would give the National Security Agency and law enforcement too much access to vast databases of information on millions of innocent Americans.
“We must keep our country safe and protect ourselves from terrorists,” Sanders said, “but we can do that without undermining the constitutional and privacy rights which make us a free nation. This bill is an improvement over the USA Patriot Act but there are still too many opportunities for the government to collect information on innocent people.”
Sanders said his concerns about the erosion of privacy rights extend beyond the government tracking phone records and Internet traffic of innocent Americans.
“This is not just the government. It’s corporate America too,” he said. “Technology has significantly outpaced public policy. There is a huge amount of information being collected on our individual lives ranging from where we go to the books we buy and the magazines we read. We need to have a discussion about that.”
Sanders plans to introduce legislation to establish a commission to study how modern technology impacts data collection and privacy.