Published: Tue, January 16, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

House Passes Bill To Reauthorize NSA's 702 Warrantless Surveillance Program

House Passes Bill To Reauthorize NSA's 702 Warrantless Surveillance Program

The major point of contention involved Section 702 of FISA, which allows the government to spy on the electronic communications of non-U.S. citizens who they have a reasonable belief are outside the United States.

The House Rules Committee met Tuesday and permitted an amendment by Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) that would require warrants for any agency seeking access to American's data picked up in 702 intelligence operations.

Privacy experts are up in arms after the House of Representatives voted to renew a controversial surveillance law which could expand the government's powers to snoop on Americans.

On Thursday morning, Donald Trump posted a Tweet expressing his skepticism about the government surveillance. The White House's statement - prior to Trump's tweets - strongly opposed the amendment. The measure is now forwarded to the Senate for a final consideration and vote. Throw in a badly informed Trump tweet, and we had a carnival of folly-which is to say, an ordinary day on Capitol Hill. The law as now written allows the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on the communications of foreigners outside our country, as long as that monitoring doesn't target Americans (citizen or resident alien) or anyone physically inside this country.

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Senior government officials can ask spy agencies to unmask the names of Americans or USA organizations if they think it will help them better understand the underlying intelligence. "This vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land", Trump said in a morning tweet.

"House votes on controversial FISA ACT today", Trump tweeted. But she added, "The president doesn't believe Americans' rights or liberties should be abused, but he certainly believes Americans should be protected".

The new law is now heading to the U.S. Senate, but as few senators have historically deviated from the House's stance on spy laws, the House vote was critical for the law's passage. Statutory authorization for Section 702 will expire after January 19, 2018. Originally enacted in 1978, the act outlines the lawful procedure for collecting foreign intelligence.

"The House of Representatives has taken a big step to ensure the continuation of one of the Intelligence Community's most vital tools for tracking foreign terrorists".

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After a bill focused on surveillance reform failed in the House, Sen.

"The bill's narrow warrant requirement runs the Fourth Amendment through a fun-house mirror, flipping its intentions and providing protections only after a search has been made", the EFF argued.

The ACLU characterized House leadership as having "caved to irresponsible fearmongering from the intelligence agencies", calling out House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for acting "in direct opposition to the interests of their constituents to be free from warrantless government spying".

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