Sen. Franken Seeks Info On Airborne Surveillance

Joins Sen. Markey in Asking AG to Explain Program

Ad Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to the list of those concerned about the government's use of plane-born surveillance equipment to collect cell phone data.

Not long after Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder seeking info in the wake of a story in The Wall Street Journal, Franken, chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, announced his own letter to Holder  asking for details about the program.

"“While I understand that law enforcement agents need to be able to track down and catch dangerous suspects, this should not come at the expense of innocent Americans’ privacy," said Franken. The questions Franken wants answered include which agencies are collecting such info, under what legal authority, how frequently, who is being targeted, what data is retained both from targets of the surveillance and "innocent Americans," how effective it is, and what privacy safeguards are in place.

The letters from Markey and Franken come the day before the Senate is to take up the USA Freedom Act, which would put new limits on government surveillance of phone and data records in the wake of the Edward Snowden leaks about bulk collection of communications records.