by India McKinney at Electronic Frontier Foundation
Earlier this week, both the House Committee on the Judiciary (HJC) and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) marked up two very different bills (H.R. 6570 – Protect Liberty and End Warrantless Surveillance Act in HJC, and HR 6611, the FISA Reform and Reauthorization Act of 2023 in HPSCI), both of which would reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)—but in very different ways. Both bills head to the House floor next week under a procedural rule called “Queen of the Hill,” where the bill with the most votes gets sent to the Senate for consideration.
While renewing any surveillance authority remains a complicated and complex issue, this choice is clear – we urge all Members to vote NO on the Intelligence Committee’s bill, H.R.6611, the FISA Reform and Reauthorization Act of 2023.
On Nov. 16, HPSCI released a report calling for reauthorization of Section 702 with essentially superficial reforms. The bill that followed, H.R. 6611, was as bad as expected. It would renew the mass surveillance authority Section 702 for another eight years. It would create new authorities that the intelligence community has sought for years, but that have been denied by the courts. It would continue the indiscriminate collection of U.S. persons’ communications when they talk with people abroad for use by domestic law enforcement. This was not the intention of this national security program, and people on U.S. soil should not have their communications collected without a warrant because of a loophole.
As a reminder, Section 702 was designed to allow the government to warrantlessly surveil non-U.S. citizens abroad for foreign intelligence purposes. Increasingly, it’s this U.S. side of digital conversations that domestic law enforcement agencies trawl through—all without a warrant. FBI agents have been using the Section 702 databases to conduct millions of invasive searches for Americans’ communications, including those of protesters, racial justice activists, 19,000 donors to a congressional campaign, journalists, and even members of Congress.
Additionally, the HPSCI bill authorizes…Continue Reading