ACLU, Coalition Urge Congress on Surveillance Reform

October 3, 2017 10:00 am

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WASHINGTON — A broad coalition of advocates including the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, Free the People, and the R Street Institute, among others, sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee today expressing concern over reforms under consideration to government surveillance powers authorized under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is set to expire this year.

According to reports, members of the House are working on a bill to reform Section 702 to address what is commonly referred to as the “backdoor search loophole,” which permits the NSA, CIA, FBI, and other agencies to search for the information of individuals in the U.S. without a warrant. News reports suggest that the fix being considered by Congress could have broad national security and intelligence exceptions.

The letter urges members of Congress to reform Section 702 to require the government to get a warrant to search through Section 702 data for information about U.S. residents in all investigations.

Neema Singh Guliani, legislative counsel for the ACLU, said:

“The reform reportedly being considered would leave the so-called ‘backdoor search loophole’ wide open. Federal agencies like the NSA and FBI should not be permitted to conduct tens of thousands of searches targeting people in the U.S. without a warrant based on probable cause. Furthermore, any fix that includes broad national security or intelligence loopholes fails to adequately protect activists, government critics, and minority communities that have a history of being improperly surveilled.

“If Congress cannot significantly reform Section 702, including by completely closing the ‘backdoor search loophole,’ then they should allow the law to sunset.”

The letter was signed by:
Advocacy for Principled Action in Government
American Association of Law Libraries
American Civil Liberties Union
American Library Association
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Arab American Institute
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Association of Research Libraries
Brennan Center for Justice
Center for Democracy & Technology
The Center for HIV Law and Policy
Center for Media Justice
The Center for Security, Race and Rights, Rutgers Law School
The Constitution Project
Color Of Change
Constitutional Alliance
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Defending Rights & Dissent
Demand Progress
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
Engine Advocacy
Equality California
Fight for the Future
Freedom of the Press Foundation
Free Press Action Fund
Free the People
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Government Accountability Project
Government Information Watch
Japanese American Citizens League
Liberty Coalition
Media Alliance
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Council of Churches
National Immigration Law Center
National LGBTQ Task Force
New America’s Open Technology Institute
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
PEN America
Poligon Education Fund
Reformed Church of Highland Park
R Street Institute
Restore The Fourth
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Sunlight Foundation
Transgender Law Center
Union for Reform Judaism
Wikimedia Foundation
Yemen Peace Project
YWCA Greater Austin

The letter is online here:…

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