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FISA Act Renewal in Doubt After Trump Tweet

FISA Act Renewal in Doubt After Trump Tweet

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is a roughly 40-year-old federal law limiting how USA spy agencies can monitor Americans' communications, first passed in the wake of 1970s Congressional investigations into privacy violations by the three-letter spy agencies.

Instead, the House voted 256 to 164 in favor of the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017. The database is supposed to include communications of foreign nationals overseas, but Americans can get swept up in the surveillance, and current law does not require a warrant for the government to look through the info on Americans.

Congress created section 702 with the 2008 FISA Amendments Act-the same act that gave telecom companies retroactive immunity for illegally spying on Americans at the behest of the Bush administration.

Donald Trump suggested on Thursday that a key program to collect foreign intelligence could have been used by the Obama administration to "badly surveil and abuse" his campaign. But less than two hours later, the president appeared to reverse himself, telling lawmakers to "Get smart!"

However, recently, bills in the Senate and the House have tried to resurrect and codify these powers to the NSA's benefit.

The White House has issued statements this week and asked lawmakers to reauthorise it, even urging members late Wednesday night to reject a proposed amendment to the measure that would weaken the bill and likely kill its chances of passage in the Senate.

The Administration strongly opposes the "USA Rights" amendment to the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act, which the House will consider tomorrow.

Some in the press have said that under this legislation, this bill would allow warrantless surveillance of Americans.

But the White House said that would risk returning to the days before 2001, when civil liberties rules walled off criminal investigators and foreign spies, keeping them from sharing information.




The Kentucky Republican insists the section needs to undergo two major changes: First, any government officials who wants to look at the information needs a judge's warrant; and since the information was collected with a "less-than-constitutional standard", he insists that it can not be used to persecute any American who may have been accidentally caught violating the law.

These backdoor searches also require no individual Fourth Amendment-based warrant, as the FISA Court usually authorizes only whole surveillance programs for months at a time against entire classes of people.

"'House votes on controversial FISA ACT today, '" Trump tweeted hours before the House approved the measure. It allows warrantless surveillance outside the United States even if one end of the communication is an American on American soil.

The White House supported the bill passed by the House on Thursday.

Five-and-a-half years after Edward Snowden leaked details of the government's secret spying programs, the dust-up over Trump's tweet underscored the still-roiling debate over domestic surveillance, technology and Americans' views of their own privacy.

"Politicians who support broad, unchecked government surveillance authorities are once again rushing to approve a sweeping program at the expense of Americans' personal liberty and constitutional rights", Sen.

"I can tell you, I've been on the intelligence committee for 17 years, the government has never said, never once said it needed 702 for typical crimes", Wyden said.

"It's a Democrat hoax that was brought up as an excuse, for losing an election", he said. Justin Amash, R-Mich., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., that would have required federal agents to get warrants before searching through Americans' data.