ADC supports House Amendment 312 offered by Representative Jared Polis of Colorado to the House Commerce, Justice, and Science (CSJ) Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2578). The Polis Amendment seeks to limit the use of funds to further bulk data collection efforts by the Drug Enforcement Agency administrative subpoena power under the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 876).
In the past, government agencies have used this provision to establish programs to collect vast amounts of data on phone calls made by American citizens. These bodies of information were originally intended to be used for investigations into illegal drug trafficking or production. Instead, there is ample evidence to suggest that agencies search these databases indiscriminately and without regard for the investigation’s connection to illegal drugs. Databases were compiled to include calls made between America and designated foreign countries. It is strongly suspected that several Middle Eastern countries are on this designated list.
Although the Department of Justice has claimed that it dismantled its bulk collection program in 2013, it could very easily reestablish the program using the same language present in 21 U.S.C 876. There are serious concerns that the DEA bulk collection may already be implemented under Executive Order 12333. Indeed, just this year Human Rights Watch filed an injunction against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency because the organization suspected that the agency was monitoring sensitive calls made to associates in foreign countries.
The Polis Amendment is necessary if unconstitutional data collection is to be finally stopped. These programs violate the rights of American citizens and jeopardize the progress made by civil rights and civil liberties organizations.
The Polis Amendment passed the House on June 2, 2015.