ACLU Cheers House Judiciary Committee’s Bill to Rein in the Government’s Use of Mass Warrantless Surveillance

The Protect Liberty and End Warrantless Surveillance Act would fundamentally reform Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

December 6, 2023 1:20 pm

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WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union is urging the House of Representatives to pass the Protect Liberty and End Warrantless Surveillance Act, which passed out of the House Judiciary Committee today on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis (35-2). This legislation would fundamentally reform Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by banning warrantless backdoor searches of Section 702 databases for Americans’ communications, and prohibiting law enforcement from purchasing Americans’ data that they would otherwise need a warrant to obtain, a practice that circumvents core constitutional protections.

Section 702 was designed to allow the government to warrantlessly surveil non-U.S. citizens abroad for foreign intelligence purposes. In recent years, however, it has morphed into a domestic surveillance tool, with FBI agents 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.

The following is a statement from Kia Hamadanchy, senior policy counsel at ACLU:

“With so much of our lives taking place online, it’s more important than ever that we have the freedom to communicate without fear of government surveillance. This bipartisan bill is Congress’s best chance to ensure that Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizures are actually protected and to finally hold the government accountable for its constant abuse of Section 702. When the bill comes to the House floor, we urge every member of the House of Representatives to vote in favor of this critical legislation.”

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