Privacy | 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidates

What do the Democratic Candidates Believe About Warrantless Domestic Surveillance / Privacy?

Y= Supports DSWW   N=does not support DSWW   R=Seeks to reduce


Hillary Clinton: R

Hillary’s Evasive Views on the NSA

Hillary Clinton is almost certain to launch a bid for the presidency. But at least for now, she’s determined to keep the public guessing about her stance on NSA spying. As Edward Snowden’s revelations forced the issue to the fore of national debate, she kept mum, even as other prospective candidates staked out positions.


On Tuesday, the technology journalist Kara Swisher raised the subject of surveillance while questioning the former Secretary of State. “Would you throttle back the NSA in the ways that President Obama has promised but that haven’t come to pass?” she asked. Clinton’s successfully evasive answer unfolded as follows:


Clinton: “Well, I think the NSA needs to be more transparent about what it is doing, sharing with the American people, which it wasn’t. And I think a lot of the reaction about the NSA, people felt betrayed. They felt, wait, you didn’t tell us you were doing this. And all of a sudden now, we’re reading about it on the front page”…


Clinton may resist “saying” that surveillance policy “has to be this or that,” but it must be something specific. “Let’s draw the line” and “I want us to come to a better balance” are shameless weasel phrases when you’re vying to call the shots. What is being balanced in her view? What should the NSA have revealed earlier? How much transparency should it provide going forward? What does the law require of the NSA? Since 9/11, when has the NSA transgressed against the law as Clinton sees it? Those questions hint at the many ways that her position is evasive. So long as no one else contests her party’s nomination, she can get away with it.


Hillary Clinton (D) As a senator, Clinton voted for the Patriot Act in 2001 and also voted to reauthorize it in 2006. Her record on privacy issues since then has been vague and she hasn’t specified any changes to current policy she’d like to make.


The fact-checker’s guide to viral graphics contrasting Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders


The following is a transcript for a video excerpt from the Democratic Debate on 10-13-15:


Q: Secretary Clinton: Do you regret your vote on the Patriot act?


No, I don’t, I think that it was necessary to make sure that we were able after 911 to put in place the security that we needed. And it is true that it did require a process. What happened however is that the Bush administration began to chip away at that process, and I began to speak out about their use of warrant-less surveillance, and the other behavior that they engage in. We always have to keep a balance between civil liberties, privacy and security. Its not easy in a democracy, but we have to keep it in mind.


Link to video:


Hillary Clinton makes big statement on NSA spying

Hillary Clinton, one of the Democratic Party’s leading national security hawks, lauded Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado on Tuesday for his work on National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance reform….


Clinton has previously signaled some support for NSA reform, alluding this summer to “changes” that needed to be made “in order to secure that privacy, that constitutional right to privacy that Americans are due,” hastening to add that she views it as a “really difficult balancing act.”


As a U.S. senator from New York in 2001, Clinton joined 97 other senators in voting for the U.S.A. Patriot Act, which significantly expanded the scope of anti-terrorism surveillance and drew ire from civil libertarians. But when the Bush administration’s warrantless eavesdropping program came to light, Clinton expressed privacy concerns.


“Obviously, I support tracking down terrorists. I think that’s our obligation. But I think it can be done in a lawful way,” Clinton said in January 2006.


While Clinton did not throw her support behind any specific NSA reform proposals on Tuesday, her remarks suggest that she’ll make a concerted effort to woo civil liberties advocates ahead of 2016.


Hillary Clinton endorses NSA reform bill

On the same day a federal court ruled against the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephone data, Hillary Clinton joined the White House in endorsing a bill to roll back mass surveillance.


“Congress should move ahead now with the USA Freedom Act — a good step forward in ongoing efforts to protect our security & civil liberties,” Clinton wrote on Twitter Thursday.


The USA Freedom Act would end the NSA’s bulk collection of data under the Patriot Act’s controversial Section 215. The section is set to expire June 1 unless Congress takes action, and momentum is building around the rollback measure.


The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee with a lopsided 25-2 vote, while a Senate version was recently introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by libertarian Republican Mike Lee and senior Democrat Patrick Leahy.

Bernie Sanders: N

Bernie Sanders: It’s Time To End Orwellian Surveillance of Every American

Bernie Sanders is the junior U.S. Senator from Vermont.


I voted against the Patriot Act every time, and it still needs major reform:


I welcome a federal appeals court ruling that the National Security Agency does not have the legal authority to collect and store data on all U.S. telephone calls. Now Congress should rewrite the expiring eavesdropping provision in the so-called USA Patriot Act and include strong new limits to protect the privacy and civil liberties of the American people…


Sanders also voted against the USA Freedom Act of 2015:


Transcript from video of portion of Democratic Debate of 10-13-15:

Q: Senator Sanders, you are the only one who voted against the Patriot Act, and the re-authorization votes. Let me ask you, if elected, would you shut down the NSA surveillance program?


Sanders: Absolutely, of course. Well, I would shut down, I would shut down what exists right now is that virtually every telephone call in this country ends up in a file at the NSA. That is unexceptionable to me. But its not just government surveillance, I think the government is involved in our emails, is involved in our websites. Corporate America is doing it as well. If we are a free country, we have the right to be free. Yes, we have to defend ourselves against terrorism, but there are ways to do that without impinging on our constitutional rights and our privacy rights.


Link to video: