Demand Progress

Tell Congress to let Section 215 expire!

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    Tell Congress to let Section 215 expire!

    Petition to Congress:
    The recent revelation that Section 215 phone surveillance program hasn’t even been used in the last six months underscores how little this program has done to prevent any kind of terrorism but rather continues to stomp over our right to privacy. It’s time for Congress to sunset Section 215.

    The New York Times just dropped a bombshell! Over the weekend, a congressional staffer let slip that a major NSA phone-tapping program hasn’t been in use in the last six months.1

    It’s called Section 215 and it’s a provision of the Patriot Act that allows the NSA to collect American phone records in bulk. The NSA says they need this phone record surveillance to fight terrorism but Section 215 has never once thwarted a terrorist attack.2 And now, the NSA doesn’t even use it.

    Section 215 is a massive invasion of privacy that doesn’t work and isn’t used anymore. Let’s get rid of it for good. So it’s time for Congress to shut it down for good. Tell Congress to let Section 215 expire.

    To be blunt: mass surveillance is massively racist in its impact. Instead of targeting the increasing threat of domestic terrorism posed by violent white nationalist extremists, the NSA and other federal agencies often use Section 215 to collect bulk data on Muslim communities, black political activists, and immigrants – all without needing a warrant or probable cause.

    The NSA claims this warrantless spying on Americans is needed to stop foreign terrorism in a post-9/11 world but Section 215 has never, not even once, helped stop a terrorist attack. And according to this revelation from the New York Times, the NSA hasn’t even run the program in the last six months. So why is it still on the books?

    Tell Congress: It’s time to let Section 215 expire for good.

    This year privacy and internet activists are going head-to-head with the largest intelligence agencies in the country to stop the government from spying on Black and brown Americans without a warrant. It’s a David and Goliath fight, but now we have a powerful slingshot.

    Section 215 should never have become law. Now that it isn’t even being used anymore, it’s more important than ever to protect the basic privacy rights of millions of people. Make sure this law can’t be used again by repealing it.

    Tell Congress: shut down Section 215 for good.


    1. New York Times, “Disputed N.S.A. Phone Program Is Shut Down, Aide Says,” March 5, 2019.
    2. Ibid.