ACLU Comment on Release of Text of Bill to Reauthorize Warrantless Surveillance of Americans

October 27, 2017 5:15 pm

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The Senate Intelligence Committee released today the text of the bill that was voted on in a closed session to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the government to surveil Americans’ communications without a warrant and is set to expire at the end of the year.

The bill would reauthorize Section 702 for eight years, and it would authorize for the first time several of the government’s illegal practices — such as searching for information about people in the U.S., collecting domestic communications, and collecting communications that are neither to nor from a surveillance target. The bill lacks much-needed reforms to ensure that the government gets a warrant to search for information of people in the U.S., to end illegal practices that the NSA has used to collect domestic communications, and to ensure appropriate transparency.

Neema Singh Guliani, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel, had the following reaction:

“It’s unacceptable that an issue of this magnitude was debated behind closed doors. We now know what mischief they were up to in secret. Not only did they fail to curb the litany abuses that have occurred in recent years, in many respects, the bill would expand existing surveillance authorities. Now that this language has seen the light of day, it is clear that this bill would further strip Americans of their constitutional rights.

“No president — including our current one — should have the authority to conduct large-scale warrantless surveillance of Americans. Such power leaves Americans vulnerable to illegal spying that improperly targets government critics, activists, journalists, and communities of color.”

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