For Immediate Release Lorenz.Isidro@mail.house.gov Thursday June 11, 2015 (202) 225-3465 U.S. House Votes for Additional Restrictions on Surveillance WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed an amendment by Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) to defund two surveillance “backdoors” that currently allow intelligence agencies access to Americans’ private data and correspondence without a warrant. The amendment, which is part of the Fiscal Year 2016 Department of Defense appropriations bill (H.R. 2685), passed 255-174. “The USA Freedom Act is not the last word on surveillance reform,” said Rep. Massie. “Backdoor surveillance authorized under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act is arguably worse than the bulk collection of records illegally collected under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. This amendment is a much needed next step as Congress continues to rein in the surveillance state and reassert the Fourth Amendment.” “This amendment is the most meaningful step Congress can take to end warrantless bulk collection of US persons' communications and data,” said Rep. Lofgren. “We know that mass surveillance of Americans, as reported in the news, has taken place under the FISA Section 702 authority. This vote shows once again that the House is committed to upholding the Constitution and protecting Americans from warrantless invasions of their privacy. Enacting this amendment into law will benefit our economy, protect our competitiveness abroad, and make significant strides in rebuilding the public's trust.” Under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, Americans' private data and communications – including emails, photos, and text messages – can be collected by intelligence agencies, provided that data or communication at some point crosses the border of the United States. Given the current fluid nature of electronic communications and data storage, in which corporate and private server farms store Americans’ data all over the world, this loophole could allow intelligence agencies access to a vast swath of communications and data without warrant protection. Intelligence officials have confirmed to Congress that law enforcement agencies actively search the content of this intercepted data without probable cause, and have used evidence gathered to assist in criminal prosecutions. Government agencies have also reportedly coerced individuals and organizations to build encryption “backdoors” into products or services for surveillance purposes, despite industry and cryptologist claims that this process is not technologically feasible without putting the data security of every individual using these services at risk. The Massie-Lofgren Amendment would prohibit funding for activities that exploit these “backdoors.” An identical amendment to the Fiscal Year 2015 Department of Defense Appropriations Act last year passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming 293-123 vote, but it was not included in the omnibus spending legislation that passed last December. The amendment is supported by a broad coalition of privacy and civil liberties groups as well as tech companies, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, Campaign for Liberty, Constitutional Alliance, Council on American-Islamic Relations, CREDO Mobile, Defending Dissent Foundation, Demand Progress, DownsizeDC.org, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund, FreedomWorks, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Generation Opportunity, Google, Liberty Coalition, Media Alliance, New America's Open Technology Institute, OpenMedia.org, OpenTheGovernment.org, Project On Government Oversight, Public Knowledge, Restore The Fourth, RootsAction.org, Student Net Alliance, Sunlight Foundation, TechFreedom, and X-Lab. Other co-sponsors include Reps Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Conyers (D-MI), Poe (R-TX), Gabbard (D-HI), Jordan (R-OH), O'Rourke (D-TX), Amash (R-MI), Nadler (D-NY), Collins (R-GA), DelBene (D-WA), Labrador (R-ID), Pocan (D-WI), Farenthold (R-TX), Lieu (D-CA), and Sanford (R-SC).
For Immediate Release Lorenz.Isidro@mail.house.gov Thursday June 4, 2015 (202) 225-3465 House Passes Massie Amendment to Strengthen Privacy and Security WASHINGTON, DC – The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed an important anti-surveillance amendment sponsored by Congressman Thomas Massie, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX). The amendment was part of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations bill, which funds many government agencies, including the Department of Justice and the Department of Commerce. The 383-43 vote represents a victory for electronic privacy advocates. Massie's amendment would prevent the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) from cooperating with the NSA to weaken encryption standards for the purpose of facilitating electronic surveillance. “When our government weakens encryption software to spy on citizens, it puts everyone at risk. Hackers can exploit weak encryption to gain access to Americans' confidential health records and financial information," said Congressman Massie. "The NIST charter is to establish dependable standards, not to compromise standards for the purpose of spying." The House passed the underlying CJS appropriations bill, 242-183. The measure will require passage in the Senate before advancing to the President.
U.S. Representatives Lofgren, Massie, Eshoo & Polis Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Enable Cell Phone & Wireless Device Unlocking
Bipartisan lawmakers reintroduce bill to permanently enable cell phone & wireless device unlocking
WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), and Jared Polis (D-CO) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to allow consumers to permanently unlock their cellphones, tablets, and other electronic communications devices in order to switch carriers. The Unlocking Technology Act of 2015 (H.R. 1587) expands and improves on cell phone unlocking legislation signed into law last year by allowing consumers to permanently unlock all their mobile devices and media in ways that do not infringe on existing copyrights.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act currently forbids consumers from sidestepping technical measures that prevent modifying copyrighted works — such as jailbreaking a tablet to run 3rd-party apps, bypassing digital rights management for archiving or disability access purposes, or unlocking a cell phone — regardless of whether there is any actual copyright infringement.
"This bill reflects how the American public views ownership of their electronic devices," said Representative Lofgren. "It’s simple – you should be free to unlock the mobile devices and media you legally purchase. If consumers are not violating copyright or other law, there's little reason to hold back the many benefits of unlocking. It’s time we allow people to permanently use their devices without interference."
"Everyone should be free to use their personal property as they see fit and choose their preferred technologies without penalty," said Representative Massie. "This bill rolls back excessive and out-dated prohibitions on otherwise lawful innovations that promote marketplace competition. I look forward to advancing this bipartisan effort with Reps. Lofgren, Polis, and Eshoo."
"Unlocking a cell phone or smart device gives consumers the freedom to choose the mobile technology and service that best suits them,” said Representative Eshoo, Ranking Member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee. “It also unlocks potential and puts competition and consumer choice on equal footing in the vibrant mobile marketplace. This bipartisan legislation ensures consumers have this option—permanently. It’s a win for consumers, it’s a win for competition, and it’s a win for our mobile economy.”
"Consumers who are not under contract should be able to unlock their cell phones or tablets," said Representative Polis. "We should not have laws on the books that prohibit consumer choice and stifle competition in the marketplace. I am pleased to introduce this bill with Representatives Lofgren, Massie, and Eshoo which will permanently restore consumers' freedom to switch wireless carriers."
The Unlocking Technology Act improves on existing law by permanently allowing consumers to unlock all of their mobile devices – not only cell phones. Cell phone unlocking legislation signed into law last year merely reinstated a temporary exemption and still relies on the Library of Congress to renew it every three years, which it may choose not to do. The Unlocking Technology Act makes this cell phone exemption permanent and extends unlocking protections to all mobile devices.
The bill would also permit the use and sale of tools — like software apps — that enable unlocking for uses that do not infringe on copyright, and consumers would not be required to obtain permission from their carrier before switching to a new carrier. The legislation further requires that these changes be included in any international trade agreements.
U.S. Representatives Pocan & Massie Introduce Legislation to Repeal PATRIOT Act
Legislation Would End Unconstitutional Mass Collection of Personal Communications
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) introduced the Surveillance State Repeal Act (H.R. 1466). The legislation would repeal federal mass surveillance laws.
“The Patriot Act contains many provisions that violate the Fourth Amendment and have led to a dramatic expansion of our domestic surveillance state,” said Congressman Massie. "Our Founding Fathers fought and died to stop the kind of warrantless spying and searches that the Patriot Act and the FISA Amendments Act authorize. It is long past time to repeal the Patriot Act and reassert the constitutional rights of all Americans. I am proud to co-sponsor Congressman Pocan’s bill and look forward to working with him on this issue.” “The warrantless collection of millions of personal communications from innocent Americans is a direct violation of our constitutional right to privacy,” said Congressman Pocan. “Revelations about the NSA’s programs reveal the extraordinary extent to which the program has invaded Americans’ privacy. I reject the notion that we must sacrifice liberty for security- we can live in a secure nation which also upholds a strong commitment to civil liberties. This legislation ends the NSA’s dragnet surveillance practices, while putting provisions in place to protect the privacy of American citizens through real and lasting change.”
The Surveillance State Repeal Act, H.R. 1466, offers a complete repeal of the 2001 PATRIOT Act, which the NSA has cited as the legal basis for its phone metadata harvesting surveillance program. Additionally, the bill repeals the FISA Amendments Act, which contains provisions for email data harvesting. H.R 1466 also makes retaliation against federal national security whistleblowers illegal and ensures any FISA collection against a U.S. person takes place only pursuant to a valid warrant based on probable cause.
U.S. Representative Massie Re-introduces Bill to Eliminate Tax on Social Security Benefits
“Taxing these benefits is an accounting sleight of hand that redistributes portions of the Social Security trust fund to other areas of government”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Thomas Massie re-introduced the Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act (H.R. 589), which would eliminate income taxes on Social Security benefits. The bill would boost the retirement income of millions of older Americans.
Original co-sponsors include Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Congressman David Jolly (R-FL), Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ), freshman Congressman Rod Blum (R-IA), and freshman Congressman Alex Mooney (R-WV).
“Social Security is financed with Americans’ tax dollars, so taxing Social Security is double-taxing by the Federal Government,” said Congressman Massie. “Taxing Social Security reduces benefits to seniors.” Congressman Ron DeSantis said, "Americans pay taxes their entire working lives to support Social Security, so there is no reason why these earned benefits should be taxed once again when they receive them. Congressman Massie’s legislation promotes transparency by blowing the whistle on the Federal Government for double-taxation while protecting our senior citizens."
Congressman David Jolly said, “Seniors should not be taxed for a benefit they rightfully earned by paying into Social Security for decades. The current system penalizes seniors as a way to support a government that is living beyond its means. We should instead focus on securing Social Security for all generations in a responsible and sustainable way." "It is problematic enough to pay high taxes on income when it is earned the first time. But, to turn around and tax Social Security benefits as a portion is being returned is unfair and can be harmful to seniors just trying to get by after a long life of work. This bill is not only the just and right thing to do, it is the helpful thing to do," said Congressman Louie Gohmert. "West Virginia seniors need relief from higher costs of living,” said Congressman Alex Mooney. “Seniors have worked hard to earn their Social Security benefits and have already been taxed on their contributions to Social Security. The Federal Government tax on Social Security is a double-tax and its repeal would provide an immediate increase in benefits for our seniors."
“I am proud to co-sponsor Congressman Massie’s bill to protect our seniors,” said Congressman Rod Blum. “This is a common sense bill that will end the double-taxation of our seniors. Our seniors pay enough taxes on their Social Security on the front end, and it is irresponsible for the government to tax them twice.”
Dan Weber, President of AMAC, the Association of Mature American Citizens, said “AMAC is proud to stand with Congressman Massie today as he introduces the “Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act.” This bill rightly eliminates the unfair income tax on Social Security benefits and ensures that older Americans, who have paid into Social Security throughout their careers, are not excessively taxed by the Federal government. Given that mature Americans and seniors have already paid tax on their Social Security contributions via the payroll tax, it is irresponsible for the government to double-tax the benefit in order to generate more revenue. The “Senior Citizens Tax Elimination Act” will not only enable beneficiaries to retain more money for retirement, but it will restore integrity to the Social Security program. As an organization committed to representing the interests of older Americans, we encourage Congress to support this commonsense legislation and to protect the benefit our seniors have earned.”
The purpose of Social Security is to provide people with financial support during retirement, not to be another source of tax revenue for the Federal Government. Under this legislation, Social Security benefits would neither be taxable nor reportable on individual tax returns, thus restoring the integrity of the program.
“Taxing these benefits is an accounting sleight of hand that redistributes portions of the Social Security trust fund to other areas of government,” Congressman Massie concluded.
Congressman Massie introduced a previous version of the bill on January 16th, 2014. The Association of Mature American Citizens supports the legislation.
1119 Longworth HOB
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U.S. Representative Thomas Massie entered Congress in November 2012 after serving as Lewis County Judge Executive. He represents Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District which stretches across Northern Kentucky and 280 miles of the Ohio River.
U.S. Representative Massie attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. During school, he invented a technology that enabled people to interact with computers using their sense of touch, and leveraged that technology to found SensAble Technologies, Inc., which raised over $32 million of venture capital, created 70 jobs, and obtained 24 patents. The hardware and software he developed is now used to design automobiles, jewelry, shoes, dental prosthetics, and even reconstructive implants for wounded soldiers.
In Congress, Thomas serves on three committees: the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
The House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure has jurisdiction over roads, bridges, mass transit, railroads, aviation, maritime and waterborne transit. Thomas’s selection to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee puts him in a position to hold the federal government accountable to taxpayers. Further, Rep. Massie’s background from MIT and the high-tech business world makes him uniquely qualified to serve his state and country on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
Thomas lives on a cattle farm in Kentucky with his wife and high school sweetheart, Rhonda, and their four children.
He’s honored to be able to serve the citizens of Kentucky’s 4th District.
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