On the heels of today's NSA revelations, Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Dean Heller (R-NV) have announced a new hearing for their transparency bill, slated for November 18th. The hearing will bring together top administration officials, privacy experts and, most importantly, a representative from Google, which is said to be reeling from news that surveillance agencies collected unencrypted data from its internal network.
The Franken-Heller bill was first introduced this summer as part of Franken's larger push for transparency, but the bill has been revised with new provisions to ensure the proposed reporting requirements cannot be used to justify any new data collection or agency spending. The bill is still less ambitious in curbing surveillance than the recently introduced USA Freedom Act, but proponents say it will help to reestablish trust in the agencies and the implicated companies. "While I personally believe that the practice of bulk data collection should be eliminated, the government can at least take immediate steps to increase transparency in programs that have many Americans suspicious," Senator Heller said in a statement.