A dynamic group of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle made an exciting announcement on Tuesday regarding controversial surveillance practices. They are introducing a reform to the expiring Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows U.S. intelligence agencies to conduct warrantless surveillance on American citizens. The goal of this reform is to put an end to this questionable surveillance tool, as revealed during a press conference on the Government Surveillance Reform Act.
Bipartisan Coalition Takes Action To End Warrantless Surveillance On Americanshttps://t.co/cpWsql4iEM
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) November 7, 2023
According to an advisory on Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden’s website, this new legislation aims to “reauthorize and reform Section 702” while also protecting Americans’ rights. The bipartisan group wants to ensure that crucial surveillance authorities remain intact, but with appropriate safeguards. The data presented in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s 2022 Transparency report showed millions of warrantless backdoor searches performed using Section 702 of FISA in 2021. However, during an April testimony, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz was unable to quantify how many people in the federal government can exploit these backdoor searches on American citizens.
At the press conference, Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee expressed his support for the Government Surveillance Reform Act. He emphasized that it would effectively halt warrantless backdoor searches within the Section 702 database, prohibit the targeting of foreigners to collect Americans’ communications, and ensure accountability for intelligence agencies’ employees who breach these boundaries. Joining Sen. Lee in this effort are Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson, Democratic California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, and Republican Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona.
The bill has received endorsements from numerous civil society groups, including Asian Americans Advancing Justice and Americans for Prosperity (AFP), according to a press release from Sen. Wyden. James Czerniawski, senior policy analyst at AFP, emphasized the importance of protecting constitutional rights and national security simultaneously. He believes that the Government Surveillance Reform Act represents a crucial step toward rebuilding trust, safeguarding constitutional rights, and maintaining public safety.
It’s worth noting that Section 702 of FISA is slated to expire at the end of December. FBI Director Christopher Wray expressed concerns about the risks to national security if the warrantless searches were to be discontinued during a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs meeting in October. The FBI has yet to respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.