ACLU Comment on Passage of Senate Surveillance Bill

January 18, 2018 1:15 pm

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WASHINGTON — The Senate voted today to pass the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S. 139), a bill that extends — and risks expanding — unconstitutional spying powers granted under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The bill now moves to President Trump for his signature.

Section 702 is used to spy on the emails, text messages, and other electronic communications of Americans and foreigners without a warrant. The authority has been repeatedly abused by law enforcement to spy on the electronic communications of Americans and foreigners without a warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Bipartisan efforts by lawmakers to reform Section 702 to safeguard constitutional rights, which were supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, failed in both the House and Senate.

Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU legislative counsel, said:

“Congress abdicated its responsibility to ensure that our intelligence agencies respect the Fourth Amendment. Instead of instituting much needed reforms, lawmakers voted to give the Trump administration broad powers to spy on Americans and foreigners at home and abroad without a warrant. No president should have this power, much less one who has endorsed policies designed to unfairly target critics, immigrants, and minority communities.

“Nevertheless, the fight over this authority is far from over. More Democrats and Republicans came out in support of surveillance reform than ever before. Next year, Congress will once again consider expiring surveillance authorities and we will continue to work for more comprehensive reform of NSA authorities. The ACLU is currently challenging warrantless surveillance under Section 702 and will continue to fight this unlawful surveillance in the courts. We will use every tool at our disposal to stop the continued abuse of these spying powers.”

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