Senator Wyden Prevails on Mandatory Reporting of Terrorist Activity

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On Monday, Senate leaders dropped a provision from the Senate’s 2016 Intelligence Authorization bill that would have created an obligation for social media companies and others to report undefined “terrorist activity” to the U.S. government.  This is a big relief.  SIIA recently came out strongly opposed to the proposal saying, “This terrible idea would bring innocent people under government surveillance for protected expression, while doing nothing to make us safer.  The Senate should drop the provision.”  We are delighted that they have done so.

The credit for this victory goes to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who understood the inherent dangers to protected expression imposed by the reporting requirement and placed a hold on the bill, blocking its forward movement until this misguided provision was dropped.

On Monday, Sen, Wyden lifted his hold on the bill and released a statement noting the proposal’s fundamental flaw: “Social media companies aren’t qualified to judge which posts amount to ‘terrorist activity,’ and they shouldn’t be forced against their will to create a Facebook Bureau of Investigations to police their users’ speech.”

Congratulations to Senator Wyden!

Mark Mark MacCarthy, Senior Vice President, Public Policy at SIIA, directs SIIA’s public policy initiatives in the areas of intellectual property enforcement, information privacy, cybersecurity, cloud computing and the promotion of educational technology. Follow Mark on Twitter at @Mark_MacCarthy.