ACLU Comment on Introduction of Bipartisan Bill to Rein in Warrantless Surveillance

Press Briefing to Discuss Legislation Thursday at 3 p.m.

October 24, 2017 11:00 am

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WASHINGTON — Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced a bill today to reform Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The government currently uses Section 702 to spy on the emails, text messages, and phone calls of Americans who are communicating with people overseas. The authority is set to expire at the end of the year.

The proposed bill would extend Section 702 for four years with critical reforms that prevent the government from searching for the communications of individuals in the U.S. without a warrant, make clear that the government must provide notice when information collected through 702 is used against an individual, and prevent the government from collecting domestic communications in violation of the law. In addition, the bill requires reporting on how Section 702 is currently being used, laying the foundation for future efforts needed to limit collection under the authority.

Neema Singh Guliani, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel, said:

“The bill introduced today by Sens. Paul and Wyden is a significant step forward in the fight to reform Section 702 to protect Americans’ constitutional rights. Importantly, it would close the so-called ‘backdoor search loophole’ that allows the government to search Section 702 data for information about individuals in the U.S. without a warrant. It would also put a stop to the illegal practice of collecting communications that are not to or from a surveillance target.

“Section 702 has been abused by our government for years to spy on individuals without a warrant in violation of the Constitution. This bill rightly recognizes that no president — Democrat or Republican ­— should have such power.

“Congress should quickly enact this bipartisan legislation and then take steps to further rein in surveillance overreach.”

The ACLU is hosting a briefing Thursday at 3 p.m. to discuss current surveillance legislation and proposed reforms, highlighting their benefits and drawbacks. The briefing will take place at the ACLU offices located at 915 15th Street NW.

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