After a contentious debate, the House of Representatives has voted to extend a controversial government surveillance program that powers American spying operations, as it voted down a proposal to include new privacy measures. The debate centers on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows for collection of foreign intelligence data, and that privacy advocates say invasively scoops up Americans communications. The authorization for the program is set to expire later this month, if not reauthorized. Section 702 allows the National Security Agency to continue controversial surveillance activities like PRISM, which the agency uses to scan through data held by American tech companies. Problematic for privacy advocates is a section in the reauthorization bill that would allow for so-called about surveillance. For some time, the National Security Agency intercepted communications that mentioned a surveillance target, even if that information was not sent directly to or from the target. The agency recently stopped, but the bill would give the government the legal leeway to restart its efforts, so long as Congress doesnt explicitly block them soon. The bill was approved by a margin of 256 to 164, and will now move to the Senate. The White House sent mixed signals on its position this week, generating confusion just before the vote. After releasing an official statement supporting the bill, the president sent a tweet Thursday morning questioning whether the Trump campaign was surveilled under the program — an accusation made without evidence. He quickly issued another tweet stepping away from the first. House votes on controversial FISA ACT today. This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others? With that being said, I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and todays vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart! Privacy groups and several lawmakers supported an amendment that would have ended about collection and tightened the requirements needed for the government to search collected data for Americans information. The White Houses statement — prior to Trumps tweets — strongly opposed the amendment. The Administration urges the House to reject this amendment and preserve the useful role FISAs Section 702 authority plays in protecting American lives, the White House said. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), who was critical of the bill, said on the floor that there is no asterisk that allows intelligence agencies to avoid complying with the Fourth Amendment. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) argued that the amendment would lead to the country flying blind in its search for terrorism suspects. The amendment was ultimately voted down. Should the bill now pass through the Senate and receive the presidents signature, it will allow the program to continue for another six years — more than the four years proposed by reformers. The final passage would close the door on a debate thats been closely watched as a high-profile fight over surveillance in the post-Snowden world.
Today in Congress, privacy reform faced a significant setback as the House voted 256 to 164 to extend a controversial piece of legislation that provides for a warrantless surveillance program that at times targets American citizens. The law, part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act known as Section 702, is leveraged as a loophole that provides for the surveillance of American citizens in the course of spying operations on foreign targets. The House bill extends the legality of the surveillance program for six years, allowing the NSA and other intelligence agencies to continue their warrantless surveillance practices without impediment. The vote in the House largely split along party lines, with Democrats opposed. While the legislation didnt face much resistance in the House, its likely to face more of a challenge in the Senate, where the bills high-profile detractors, including Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, have already pledged a bipartisan filibuster effort. No American should have their right to privacy taken away! #FILIBUSTERIf this #Section702 bill comes to the Senate, I will filibuster it. The House-passed bill does absolutely nothing to defend the vast majority of law-abiding Americans from warrantless searches, and in many ways it expands the federal governments ability to spy on Americans. A concerted campaign of fear-mongering and misinformation pushed this flawed bill over the line, Wyden said in a statement following the vote. The Senate must allow real debate and amendments, and not push this legislation through in the dark. Just hours before the vote was set to take place, President Trump issued a tweet condemning the bill and contradicting the White Houses established position before backtracking on his initial criticism later in the morning. With that being said, I have personally directed the fix to the unmasking process since taking office and todays vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!