December 20, 2017

WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union harshly criticized a bill to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is set to expire at the end of the year. The bill was introduced yesterday and is likely to be considered by the House this week.

“We strongly oppose this legislation,” said Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU legislative counsel. “Instead of taking steps to stop the litany of abuses that have occurred under Section 702, this bill would make current law measurably worse and open up new avenues for government overreach.

“The last decade has demonstrated time and again that when surveillance laws are negotiated in secret and rushed through Congress with little debate, it often leads to abuse and constitutional violations. Yet House leadership appears poised to repeat past mistakes and quickly push for a vote on this hastily drafted legislation without giving members of Congress or the public time to debate the important privacy interests at stake.”

The legislation could be seen as codifying and expanding the illegal surveillance practice of collecting communications that are not to or from a surveillance target. In addition, instead of preventing the government from warrantlessly searching Section 702 databases for information about American citizens and residents, the bill could be interpreted as codifying this illegal practice. It would also reauthorize Section 702 for four years without critical reforms to end wholly domestic collection and ensure appropriate notice is provided to individuals who have Section 702 information used against them.

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