Privacy & Civil Liberties
Since 9/11, millions of Americans have been kept in the dark about the collection of personal data by our own government in the name of national security, without any evidence that such intrusive actions were effective in preventing attacks on our country. In 2013, the sweeping collection of innocent Americans’ personal data by the National Security Agency was exposed. This blatant disregard for the protection of our civil liberties and privacy rooted in the Fourth Amendment of our Constitution, flies in the face of those from generations past and present who have given their lives to protect the freedoms that make our country great. We must always remember and honor the principles of freedom that they sacrificed for.
A strong national defense and the protection of our civil liberties are equally important and compatible. We can strike the necessary balance between freedom and security by reforming our surveillance practices and directing the resources we have toward proven methods of eliminating threats to the safety and security of the American people.
Tulsi has continued to support legislation that better meets the balanced responsibility of protecting our civil liberties and ensuring a strong national defense. She has introduced legislation like the Strengthening Privacy, Oversight, and Transparency (SPOT) Act to expand the functions of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB). The SPOT Act would give the PCLOB greater ability to carry out its function of balancing the government’s national security and counterterrorism activities with the need to protect the privacy and civil liberties of law-abiding Americans. In addition, the bill would make all five board members full-time and help prevent a lingering vacancy from impeding the PCLOB's important work.
Our laws regarding freedom, privacy, and civil liberties have not kept up with the rapid expansion of technology in today’s digital age. Tulsi recently helped launch the bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus to protect the privacy and security of Americans in the digital age and to ensure that the Fourth Amendment rights granted to each and every American under our Constitution are protected and strengthened. Tulsi has also strongly supported legislation like the Email Privacy Act and Electronic Communications Privacy Amendments Act to make much needed and long overdue updates our online privacy laws.
In the 115th Congress, Tulsi voted against legislation to reauthorize the warrantless collection of Americans' calls, emails, texts and other communications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. She joined a bipartisan coalition in introducing the USA RIGHTS amendment to protect the privacy of Americans’ communications and end warrantless backdoor searches of Americans' communications. She also introduced the Preventing Unconstitutional Collection Act (H.R.2588) to permanently codify protections on Americans’ privacy.