Last night, the Senate failed to advance the USA Freedom Act, which would have implemented a number of reforms to U.S. mass surveillance programs. The USA Freedom Act provided for reforms including an end to bulk collection of domestic phone records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, establishing special advocates for the FISA Court to press for the protection of privacy and civil liberties in relevant Court proceedings, requiring the Court to declassify more information about its opinions and decision-making processes, and requiring greater transparency from the government about some aspects of its surveillance programs.

“The Senate has missed a key opportunity to begin reforming mass surveillance programs that violate the constitutional and international human rights to free expression, freedom of information, and privacy,” said Katy Glenn Bass, Deputy Director of Free Expression Programs at PEN. “The new Congress must put comprehensive surveillance reform at the top of its to-do list in 2015, including not just the reforms proposed in the USA Freedom Act, but also changes to the surveillance programs carried out under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, and greater transparency and oversight for the programs currently conducted under Executive Order 12333.”