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New reforms proposed as criticism is leveled against government surveillance programs

The growing concern about the surveillance programs that major governments like the United States and United Kingdom have implemented has generated strong amounts of criticism, and as a result, the U.S. Senate has proposed a series of reforms.

When Edward Snowden first leaked information regarding the National Security Agency's PRISM program, the country was shocked and outraged at the seemingly indiscriminate monitoring that the government was using against its citizens. While a manhunt ensued for the man who leaked this information, many people began to question the intentions of the U.S. government.

Human Rights Watch offers insight
Among the major criticisms of these kinds of programs is the blatant invasion of citizen's privacy. Human Rights Watch recently explained that such measures were not only violations of one's human rights, but could limit the potential of the Internet as a result.

Because of these potential dangers, HRW endorsed the Set of International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance that was administered by a number of different organizations from around the world.

"The shocking revelations of mass monitoring by the US and UK show how privacy protections have not kept pace with technology," said Senior Internet Research for HRW, Cynthia Wong. "As our lives become more digitized, unchecked surveillance can corrode everyone's rights and the rule of law."

The group contends that while Internet surveillance can be helpful for national security, it must be extremely narrow in its application, otherwise it could be indiscriminately applied and misused.

New reforms proposed
Because of the widespread criticism that the U.S. government has heard since the leaks, it has worked to create a new set of reforms in order to improve these policies. 

The Guardian, which is the same news source that initially published information from the leaks, reports that earlier this month four senators proposed the Intelligence Oversight and Surveillance Reform Act in order to address a number of these issues. The bill was drafted as a bi-partisan effort and draws from previously proposed reform acts that have come about following the leaks.

One of the main reforms would be the prohibition of section 215 in the Patriot Act in which the NSA could indiscriminately collect phone records of American citizens. It would also prohibit similar practices that occurred over the Internet and loopholes that could also allow for this to happen.

These reforms are essential to preserving the rights of individuals who use the internet as it grows increasingly pervasive throughout society.

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