Today, Demand Progress led a coalition of 27 groups, including the ACLU, Americans for Prosperity, Brennan Center, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, FreedomWorks, OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates, the Project for Privacy and Surveillance Accountability, and others, calling on members of Congress to support an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill to close the “backdoor search” loophole offered by Reps. Lofgren (D-CA), Massie (R-KY), Jayapal (D-WA), and Davidson (R-OH). For years, the FBI has exploited this loophole to warrantlessly and unconstitutionally search for Americans’ information “incidentally” acquired under Section 702, while also breaking the rules established by Congress and the courts that regulate its access to this extremely sensitive data.
The coalition’s letter of support is available here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/demandprogress/letters/Coalition_support_for_Lofgren-Massie_amendment.pdf
“This formidable bipartisan alliance is once again standing up against warrantless surveillance to protect the rights of Americans,” said Bob Goodlatte, Senior Policy Advisor for The Project for Privacy and Surveillance Accountability and former Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary. “The FBI shouldn’t be able to snoop on our conversations without getting a warrant, especially not after years of breaking the rules set by Congress and the courts. The Lofgren-Massie amendment would put an end to this dangerous and unconstitutional practice.”
The following comment may be attributed to Sean Vitka, Senior Policy Counsel for Demand Progress: “The right to privacy doesn’t know party lines, and it is heartening to see progressives and libertarians come together to once again defend civil liberties in the United States. Given the repeated, systemic abuse of Section 702 to violate Americans’ rights, it is clear we must fight together, or we will lose together.”
Tomorrow (Tuesday) at 2, the House Committee on Rules will decide whether this bipartisan amendment to H.R. 4505, the CJS Appropriations Bill for 2022, will get a floor vote. As the letter details, this amendment would close the backdoor search loophole by prohibiting the FBI from warrantlessly searching through vast databases of foreign intelligence information specifically for Americans’ data. This information is acquired under Section 702, one of the most controversial provisions of FISA. The government is already prohibited from targeting Americans’ information for collection at the outset, meaning this practice not only violates the Constitution, but also the clear spirit of the law. Multiplerecent Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions revealed that the FBI has abused its access to this information for years.