In January 2018, Congress passed a six-year reauthorization of Section 702, the invasive spying program that sweeps up the emails, text messages, and other online communications of millions of innocent Americans. You can read what Cindy Cohn said about this massive blow to civil liberties here. However, the fight is far from over. When the provisions are set to expire in 2023, we will get the chance to make our case as to why these programs should be seriously reformed or allowed to sunset.
In the meantime, you can follow along and learn more about EFF’s landmark case against mass surveillance, Jewel v. NSA.
Many were shocked to learn that the U.S. indiscriminately vacuums up the communications of millions of innocent people – both around the world and at home – through surveillance programs under Section 702, originally enacted by the FISA Amendments Act. This warrantless, suspicionless surveillance violates established privacy protections, including the Fourth Amendment.
The U.S. government uses Section 702 to justify the collection of the communications of innocent people overseas and in the United States by tapping into the cables that carry domestic and international Internet communications through what's known as Upstream surveillance. The government also forces major U.S. tech companies to turn over private communications stored on their servers through a program often referred to as PRISM. While the programs under Section 702 are theoretically aimed at foreigners outside the United States, they constantly collect Americans’ communications with no meaningful oversight from the courts.
These programs are a gross violation of Americans’ constitutional rights. Communicating with anyone who is potentially located abroad does not invalidate your Fourth Amendment protections.