(Washington, D.C.) – The expiration of key provisions of the USA Freedom Act provides an opportunity to end national intelligence practices infringing on Americans’ privacy rights, but only if the U.S. Senate takes a day to consider proposed reforms, PEN America said today.

Three surveillance authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), as updated and revised by both the Patriot Act and USA Freedom Act, expired this Sunday, March 15. Many in the Senate have coalesced around a House bill that provides some necessary reforms. However, the Senate is planning to vote quickly on the law this week, without considering additional amendments.

“The USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020 is the perfect chance to pass much needed reform safeguarding America’s right to privacy. However, pushing the Senate to a vote without even considering proposed amendments to this bill would waste an opportunity to reconfigure this problematic law,” said PEN’s Washington director, Thomas O. Melia. “Accelerating this proposal through the legislative process absent more mindful discussions with experts and affected stakeholders denies the Senate a chance to grapple with issues such as the impacts on the First Amendment and the potentially invasive surveillance of communities. We call on lawmakers to respect the privacy rights of American citizens and ensure due process of discussion and deliberation.”


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Stephen Fee, Director of Communications, sfee@pen.org, +1 202 309 8892