Lawmakers are getting serious about renewing the U.S. government’s Internet spying powers, so we need to get serious about stopping their bad proposals.
First out of the gate is a bill from Sen. Tom Cotton, an ardent defender of government surveillance. His bill would not just reauthorize, but make permanent the expiring measure that the government says justifies the warrantless surveillance of innocent Americans’ online communications—Section 702, as enacted by the FISA Amendments Act. His bill (S. 1297) is supported by several Republicans in the Senate, including Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr and Sens. John Cornyn, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham.
Section 702 surveillance violates the privacy rights of millions of people. This warrantless spying should not be allowed to continue, let alone be made permanent as is.
As originally enacted, Section 702 expires every few years, giving lawmakers the chance to reexamine the broad spying powers that impact their constituents. This is especially crucial as technology evolves and as more information about how the surveillance authority is actually used comes to light, whether through government publication or in the press.
If Congress were to approve Cotton’s bill, lawmakers would not only be ignoring their constituents’ privacy concerns, but they would also be ceding their obligation to regularly review, debate, and update the law. That is not acceptable.
Luckily, there’s already opposition to the proposal to make Section 702 permanent. During recent hearings at the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees on Section 702 surveillance, Sen. Dianne Feinstein—who has historically been sympathetic to the intelligence community—said she could not support a bill that makes Section 702 permanent.
Now we need other members of Congress to make the same stand. We cannot accept lawmakers ignoring our privacy concerns and their responsibility to review surveillance law, and our lawmakers need to hear that.
Sign our petition today and tell Congress to oppose S. 1297 and the permanent reauthorization of Section 702 spying.