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

The SAFE Act would make important reforms to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)

March 14, 2024 4:30 pm

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WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union is urging the Senate to immediately take up the Security and Freedom Enhancement Act, which was introduced today by Senators Durbin (D-IL) and Lee (R-UT). This bipartisan legislation would make important reforms to Section 702, including by barring the FBI, NSA, and CIA from warrantlessly accessing Americans’ communications collected under this sweeping law. The bill would also prohibit law enforcement from circumventing core constitutional protections by purchasing Americans’ data that they would otherwise need a warrant to obtain.

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:

“Senators Durbin and Lee have carefully crafted a bipartisan compromise bill. While this legislation does not include every reform civil liberties groups have been pushing for, it does include meaningful changes that will rein in the government’s warrantless surveillance of Americans and help ensure that our privacy is protected. The Senate should take up this bill immediately.”

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