After the House passed a bill to extend NSA mass surveillance of both foreigners and Americans through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) section 702, the Senate remains the last line of defense, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The organization is encouraging everyone to call their Senators before the Tuesday vote and tell them to reject bill S. 139.
House Votes For Warrantless Surveillance
Yesterday, the House voted 256-164 to extend NSA’s FISA 702 mass surveillance programs for another six years.
The House also voted against an amendment sponsored by Rep. Justin Amash and co-sponsored by 40 other members of the House. The amendment would have replaced the text of S. 139 bill with that of the reform-oriented USA Rights Act proposed by Senators Ron Wyden, Rand Paul, and others.
According to the EFF, the S. 139 bill:
- Endorses nearly all warrantless searches of databases containing Americans’ communications collected under Section 702.
- Provides a narrow and seemingly useless warrant requirement that applies only for searches in some later-stage criminal investigations, a circumstance which the FBI itself has said almost never happens.
- Allows for the restarting of “about” collection, an invasive type of surveillance that the NSA ended last year after being criticized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for privacy violations.
- Sunsets in six years, delaying Congress’ best opportunity to debate the limits NSA surveillance.
It's The Senate's Time To Step Up
According to the EFF, the Senate will vote on the S. 139 bill next Tuesday, January 16. Senator Rand Paul promised he would filibuster the previous attempt to extend and expand NSA’s surveillance powers, at the end of 2017. He later argued in a tweet that:
We cannot live in fear of our own intelligence community. They have such power to suck up every bit of every transmission, every communication we ever made.
Yesterday, he also renewed the filibuster promise, so the Tuesday vote should be quite interesting.
To back him and other members of Congress that plan to reject the S. 139 bill and support strong surveillance reforms, the EFF is encouraging everyone again to call their senators before the Tuesday vote and tell them to vote against S. 139.