PRIVACY: Polis Amendment Preventing DEA Bulk Surveillance Passes House
An amendment introduced by Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) to prohibit the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from engaging in warrantless bulk data collection just passed the House tonight on a 242-183 vote. The amendment was included in the passage of the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill.
“The Drug Enforcement Administration’s secret bulk surveillance program – which came to light earlier this year more than 20 years after the program’s initiation – was a grave infringement on the rights of law-abiding citizens,” Polis said. “Though the Department of Justice temporarily suspended this program in 2013, there is nothing to stop them from picking up where they left off. My amendment to the CJS appropriations bill will prohibit the DOJ from using federal funds to do exactly that.”
“As legal experts have established again and again, there is no need or justification for federal officials to violate the privacy rights of millions of law-abiding Americans in order to pursue legitimate criminal activity,” Polis added.
The DEA’s bulk surveillance program, uncovered through a series of investigative reports in 2013, was the first known US effort to gather bulk data on American citizens, regardless of whether or not they were suspected of committing a crime. The DEA bulk warrantless surveillance formed the basis for the NSA’s spying program and our modern surveillance state.
Polis’ amendment to shift $9 million from the DEA’s failed Cannabis Reduction and Eradication program to anti-domestic violence and anti-child abuse programs was also included in the final passage of the CJS appropriations bill.
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