Washington, D.C. – Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08) issued the following statement in response to the President’s address on electronic surveillance reform:

“As the sponsor of H.R. 2849, the Privacy Advocate General Act, in the House of Representatives, I am encouraged by the President’s call for a panel of outside advocates to provide an independent voice in significant cases before the United States Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Court (FISA Court). It is an important first step in reforming FISA Court operations.  However, I strongly believe that the establishment of a Privacy Advocate General to present adversarial legal and constitutional arguments to the government’s request for electronic surveillance in FISA Court will better ensure that the Court hears both sides of an issue before issuing decisions that will significantly impact Americans’ privacy and civil liberties. This is a proposal that was also endorsed by the President’s independent expert review panel. In addition, I am pleased that the President will seek new limitations on telephone surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).  I have also sponsored H.R. 2864, the Telephone Surveillance Accountability Act, which requires the government to obtain judicial approval prior to searching for specific domestic phone records. The NSA should not serve as both the sole custodian of massive telephone data and the sole arbiter as to when and to what extent that data may be queried. Moreover, I commend the President on his decision to declassify over 40 FISA Court orders and opinions and hope that we will continue to shift towards meaningful transparency in electronic surveillance requests.  It is now imperative that Congress and the Administration work together in order to implement these and other critical electronic surveillance reforms to achieve a fairer balance between our critical interests in national security, individual privacy, and due process of law.”