Senate reauthorizes warrantless spy program against Americans

"FISA court found that the federal government violated its own rules over 278,000 times." 


The United States Senate passed the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in a 60-34 vote. 

The bill was set to expire on Friday and would have ended the Section 702 data collection practices by the intelligence agencies. 

In a statement after the bill passed the House of Representatives, the White House called the provision "one of our nation’s most critical intelligence authorities." 

"The Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act ensures that the Intelligence Community has the tools that it needs to identify and disrupt threats to the American people from hostile nation states, terrorist organizations, hackers, spies, and more," the statement added. 

The bill passed the House earlier this week without any provision that required officials to get a warrant to collect information on American citizens. An amendment by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) was voted down by the body 273-147 last Friday. 

Section 702 of FISA has been used to detect threats to the US by gathering intel on the communications of foreign individuals. In objection to the passage of the reauthorization Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL) noted that it has improperly been used over 278,000 times by the federal government. 

"The original intent of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA] was to be able to gather information on bad foreign actors," she said. "However, as we have seen over the years, the program has been abused to spy on American citizens in direct violation of American liberty and the 4th Amendment. The FISA court found that the federal government violated its own rules over 278,000 times." 

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) stood with Republicans in opposition to the bill. He noted, "The legislation coming from the House gives the government unchecked authority to order millions of Americans to spy on behalf of the government." 

"It says that the government can force cooperation from, ‘any other service provider who has access to equipment that is being or may be used to transmit or store wire or electronic communications,'" Wyden added, “That means anyone with access to a server, a wire, a cable box, a Wi-Fi router, a phone, or a computer.” 

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