Bucks County Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-8) announced a new bill that revises language in section 215 of the Patriot Act that creates stricter guidelines for gathering electronic data on Americans.
According to the bill, if spying practices breach those guidelines, Congress would be authorized to defund the programs for a full year.
"We are at a crossroads where we need to strike a balance between personal liberties and a right to privacy and the need for the National Security Agency to monitor our enemies," said Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick released the NSA Accountability Act of 2013 prompted by a recent revelation in a Washington Post report of more than 2,700 instances where NSA agents unintentionally and purposely violated intelligence-gathering rules and accessed private citizens' phone and e-mail records.
“This bill is a good step in assuring the American people that somebody is watching over the NSA and will hold them accountable,” said Fitzpatrick. “We must ensure the program is operating under rules that respect the privacy of law-abiding Americans, while at the same time providing law enforcement the information they need to keep us safe.”
Fitzpatrick told reporters that strong evidence of wrongdoing related to international and foreign terrorism must exist in order to justify tracking American citizens. If audits reveal that spying was performed without evidence, Congress will cease funding for section 215 of the Patriot Act, which oversees the NSA program, for the fiscal year.
"What we are finding is that there was a massive dragnet of data collection on law-abiding citizens," said Fitzpatrick. "It is the kind of massive government overreach and state-sponsored surveillance that many of my neighbors fear."