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Demand Progress Condemns House Vote To Reauthorize Section 702 Of FISA Without Major Reforms

Demand Progress condemns House vote to reauthorize Section 702 of FISA without major reforms

CONTACT: Daniel Schuman, policy director, Demand Progress, 240-237-3930

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Demand Progress condemns today’s vote in the House to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) without including essential reforms.

Demand Progress has opposed the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act from the start and has instead urged the House to pass strong reform legislation, like the USA RIGHTS Act, which was offered as an amendment but defeated 183-233, despite strong support from members of both parties. 55 Democrats voted against the amendment, where a swing of 26 votes would have meant its adoption and the protection of Americans’ privacy. The USA RIGHTS amendment would have enacted meaningful reforms to Section 702, which are imperative given the government’s historical abuse of surveillance authorities and the danger posed by future abuses.

The following statement can be attributed to Demand Progress Action Policy Director Daniel Schuman:

“Today a majority of the House of Representatives betrayed the American people by voting for a bill that fails to enact even the most basic privacy reforms. Despite widespread, bipartisan support from major privacy groups and the public for crucial fixes to Section 702, the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act as passed will codify the government’s current and illegal practice of warrantlessly searching Americans’ communications — an egregious violation of privacy rights that has no place under the Fourth Amendment.

“By failing to close the backdoor search loophole in this bill, which exposes millions of innocent Americans to warrantless government surveillance, members of Congress have ceded incredible domestic spying powers to the executive branch. This is particularly troubling given the fact the current administration under President Trump has repeatedly attacked vulnerable communities and engaged in authoritarian behavior that poses a grave threat to our democratic norms.

“Moreover, the vote took place in the face of outrageous misrepresentations and bigoted statements by the House Intelligence Committee majority, which every member of Congress should condemn.

“It is now incumbent on the Senate to do its duty in acting as a check against executive power, and reject legislation that does not provide adequate privacy protections.”

Earlier this week, 44 privacy and transparency organizations called for the defeat of Section 702 reauthorization unless it included the USA RIGHTS amendment, and hundreds of thousands of Americans have contacted Congress in opposition to reauthorization of Section 702 absent major reforms. Yesterday, Demand Progress Action called on Rep. Adam Schiff, (D-CA), ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), and other HPSCI Democrats to denounce racist propaganda that HPSCI has repeatedly circulated in recent weeks.