The House Judiciary Committee plans to propose a bill mandating the need for a warrant when surveilling Americans under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), according to draft language of the text reviewed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Section 702 of FISA is intended to primarily target foreign individuals, yet it also grants U.S. intelligence agencies the authority to conduct surveillance of American citizens without requiring a warrant. The proposed bill aims to amend and renew this provision in a way that reduces its impact on Americans’ rights, as it expires at the end of December. (RELATED: FBI Agents Misused FISA Data To Surveil ‘Political Party,’ US Congressman, Audit Finds)
We know that the FBI has abused the FISA process and spied on Americans.
With Section 702 of FISA up for renewal this year, a clean reauthorization or extension will only further erode Americans’ lost confidence in their Intel agencies.
— Congressman Ben Cline (@RepBenCline) November 29, 2023
Furthermore, the draft text limits the number of U.S. government individuals authorized to conduct these searches on citizens, according to the draft text. However, there are certain exceptions to the warrant requirement, such as for emergencies and if there is consent.
Penalties for violating FISA include fines and prison time, according to the text. The House Judiciary Committee is planning to vote on the bill on Wednesday and is anticipating bipartisan support, according to Politico.
FBI Director Christopher Wray has concerns that terminating the warrantless searches could contribute to national security risks, he told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs in October.
Moreover, the government performed millions of warrantless backdoor searches using FISA Section 702 in 2021, according to an Office of the Director of National Intelligence 2022 Transparency report. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz could not answer how many individuals in the government can use these backdoor searches against Americans in April testimony.
A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers introduced the Government Surveillance Reform Act in November, which reforms FISA Section 702 and also ends warrantless searches on Americans. The legislation’s objective is to “reauthorize and reform Section 702,” as well as safeguard Americans’ rights while maintaining the tool’s crucial surveillance authorities, according to an advisory on Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden’s website.
The FBI did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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