Update – January 11, 2018: The House of Representatives voted to reauthorize the FISA 702 amendments in a vote of 256-164. The Senate then voted to mark up the House’s reauthorization bill, and prevent other amendments from getting a vote. Debate on this bill will begin on Tuesday, January 16.
Original Post: Golden Frog urged congressional members to vote against the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act (S. 139), signing on to a letter with 44 NGOs and companies.
The FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act would essentially continue current policy under the FISA 702 amendments. This policy allows law enforcement to collect data on foreign targets, but also allows monitoring and collection of information on domestic (US) non-targets if they are in communication with a foreign target. This means a great deal of information is thus collected (and can be searched) on people who are not the subject of criminal investigations, without the burden of a warrant as part of an investigation. This backdoor loophole would only call for a warrant in cases law enforcement officials choose to prosecute after evidence has already been gathered. This complete disregard of the 4th amendment violates the public trust and our personal privacy.
The letter states the following: “The government conducts backdoor searches in broadly defined ‘foreign intelligence’ investigations that may have no nexus to national security, in criminal investigations that bear no relation to the underlying purpose of collection, and even in the course of determining whether to open an assessment, which is a preliminary phase of investigations where there are no facts to believe someone has committed a criminal act.”
Signatories of the letter strongly urged members to instead support the USA RIGHTS Amendment, which would help to close this backdoor search loophole, prohibit the collection of domestic communications and end the NSA’s illegal collection of mass communications data. The amendment also includes transparency measures that would force the government to provide information on the number of United States citizens surveilled under 702, and give notice on information gathered under the provision when used in legal proceedings related to US citizens.
Golden Frog believes that foreign intelligence gathering capabilities and the secret FISA court process should never be used against US citizens unless the US person is involved in an international crime or terrorism. Domestic crime investigations should use a grand jury subpoena or a warrant issued by a normal district court. Although the USA RIGHTS Amendment does not go this far, it would address some of our concerns by at least requiring a warrant from the FISA court.
Also please join us and contact your Congressional member now, and urge them to reject FISA reauthorization, and support the USA RIGHTS Amendment.
- ACLU Effort: Tell Congress: Stop spying without a warrant
- Fight for the Future Effort: Tell your lawmaker: If you give the FBI, NSA, and Trump authoritarian spying powers over all Americans, you don’t belong in the Senate
- Access Now Effort: Don’t let US Congress expand mass surveillance
We have been writing about and following FISA 702 for some time now, as well as fighting back against this legislation that allows for widespread surveillance. View our articles to learn more!