Well, it’s official. On January 19, United States president Trump signed a law that renews the FISA 702 amendments, which allow for the warrantless surveillance of US citizens. The renewal is for a six year period, and upholds the existing National Security Agency (NSA) program with minimal changes. Under the law, the FISA 702 amendments allow for US law enforcement to collect data foreign targets of criminal investigations. Due to the way the law is written (what we could refer to as “loopholes,”) however, FISA also allows the government to collect information on anyone these “targets” interact with – including domestic, or United States citizens. What’s worse; the NSA can collect information on these individuals even if they are not the target of any investigation themselves and without a warrant. And – as we’re unfortunately all too familiar – once data is collected and stored it is often used – and misused by the government. The continuation of the FISA 702 Amendments allows for the continued warrantless, mass surveillance of US citizens.
As described by Reuters, with the renewal the NSA can “eavesdrop on vast amounts of digital communications from foreigners living outside the United States via US companies ” (think Facebook, Google). The NSA, unsurprisingly, argues that the program provides information to them that is “indispensable.”
This move is a blow for privacy advocates – including Golden Frog – who have been pushing against FISA 702’s renewal and mass surveillance in general for years. Despite the passage of this law, which we were hoping would be amended rather than continue as-is, we will continue to fight surveillance and warrantless collection of personal information in the United States and around the world. Every citizen has the right to privacy, and due process in cases where information needs to be collected. No citizen should have to worry about having their information collected and used against them, as FISA and many other pieces of alarming legislation so allow. Learn more about the FISA 702 amendments and our ongoing battle against surveillance here:
- FISA 702: We Need Reform Before It’s Too Late
- Policy Highlight: USA Liberty Act of 2017
- Golden Frog Policy Issues: Mass Surveillance