ACLU Poll: Americans Want Patriot Act Reformed To Protect Privacy

Some members of Congress are pushing to extend the Patriot Act past its expiration date, but a new poll from the ACLU show Americans believe it needs changing first.

The poll, which was commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and conducted by various bipartisan polling groups, found that Americans were not happy with the current Patriot Act.

According to Newsweek, it found that 60 percent of respondents want the law reformed to “limit government surveillance and protect Americans’ privacy.”

About 34 percent want to keep the post-9/11 measure in its current form, arguing “it has been effective in keeping America safe from terrorists and other threats to national security like ISIS or Al Qaeda.”

The Hill reports that the respondents most likely to want to see the law reformed are young voters on the extreme of either side of the political spectrum — either self-described as “very conservative” or “very liberal.”

Independent voters were also more likely to want changes than party-affiliated voters.

The NSA uses Section 215 of the Patriot Act to legally defend its mass collection of all American’s phone data, now an infamous program thanks to controversial whistle-blower Edward Snowden and the Guardian.

ACLU lobbyist Neema Singh Guliani explained that Congress should heed the poll’s results.

“The poll results tell us that in order to be more reflective of the public’s views on surveillance and the Patriot Act, members of Congress should more fully support reforms. That’s consistent with whether they are trying to appeal to Democrats, Republicans or Independent voters.”

The poll also showed that 82 percent of respondents were at least “somewhat concerned” the government was collecting their phone data.

GOP supporters of the Patriotic Act, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, concede that renewing the law completely seems unlikely, according to the Guardian. Another bill, known as the American Freedom Act, would reform the Patriotic Act to some extent and has made its way through the House of Representatives.

Senators Rand Paul and Ron Wyden have said McConnell’s unreformed Patriot Act renewal bill was dead on arrival, but Wyden would support the American Freedom Act. Paul says he opposes it because it would allow the NSA to keep its mass surveillance program.

The NSA has more problems than just the American public and Congress. On May 7, an appeals court ruled the mass collection program is illegal, reversing the decision made by federal judge William Pauley.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Judge Pauley declared the program was not only lawful, but “vital” for America’s security.

The full Patriot Act poll results from the ACLU are available here.

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