WASHINGTON — The House Intelligence Committee passed a bill today that dramatically expands NSA surveillance authorities, including Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which is set to expire at the end of the year. The text of the bill was released less than 48 hours in advance of the vote. The bill passed by a vote of 13 to 8.
Neema Singh Guliani, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel, said, “Claims that this bill constitutes ‘reform’ are simply false. This legislation would dramatically expand NSA surveillance authorities, make current law measurably worse, and open up new avenues for the government to violate Americans’ constitutional rights. Given this, it is no surprise that the ACLU, over 35 organizations across the political spectrum, and companies oppose this bill.
“There are several other surveillance reform proposals that have been introduced in Congress, including the bipartisan USA Rights Act. Congress should abandon this flawed and unconstitutional intelligence bill and instead take up those measures that bring forward real reform.”
The intelligence bill could be used by the government to engage in several concerning practices, including collecting information in bulk under Section 702, expanding surveillance that targets Americans under other authorities, and supporting arguments that Congress has codified current illegal practices. Additionally, it would reauthorize Section 702 for 4 years without critical reforms to end wholly domestic collection, prevent warrantless searching of Section 702 data for information about American citizens and residents, and ensure that individuals are provided appropriate notice.
Section 702 has been used by the government to collect hundreds of millions of communications a year without a warrant, including Americans’ phone calls, text messages, emails, social media content, and more.