As we wrote, the bill, originally introduced by Chairman Devin Nunes before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, “allows warrantless search of American communications, expands how collected data can be used, and treats constitutional protections as voluntary.”
The bill would create an easy path for the NSA to restart an invasive type of surveillance (called "about" searches) that the agency voluntarily ended earlier this year because of criticisms from the FISA court. It would also give FBI agents the power to decide whether or not to seek a warrant to read American communications collected under Section 702.
Of course, it's particularly ridiculous that it's Nunes pushing for this broad renewal of Section 702. While he has a very long history of actively misleading the public about what the NSA can actually do, he was also the one who flipped out when he found out that Section 702 was used (legally under the law) to conduct surveillance that swept in the communications of General Mike Flynn's calls with Russians. And yet, here he is, making sure that that power continues, without restrictions, suggesting that maybe (just maybe) his public wailing about the surveillance on Flynn was political theater, rather than legitimate concern.
EFF has set up a page to let you contact your Representative to let them know to vote against the bill. Unfortunately, when surveillance hawks started screaming in Congress about how failing to pass this bill will "harm national security" and "put us at risk of terrorist attacks" or "take away a key NSA tool" many Congress members who aren't knowledgeable about the details will reflexively vote for the bill. Check out the EFF's page and make sure that your elected representative knows that this is a bad bill that wrecks the 4th Amendment rights of Americans and allows for massive domestic surveillance.
In case you want a refresher, a few months back we wrote about an an important report by Marcy Wheeler detailing twelve years of NSA surveillance abuse, much of it done under this 702 program that is set to expire at the end of the year, and which this new bill seeks to renew without any real change. Please read up and let your elected representatives know not to support this bill.
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