TCP, Coalition Applaud Surveillance Reform Bill

The Constitution Project today joined a broad coalition of over 40 groups from across the political spectrum supporting the USA RIGHTS Act co-sponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY) to substantially reform Section 702 of FISA, providing necessary checks on the overbroad surveillance law without compromising security value it provides. The bill would close the “backdoor search loophole” that allows government to query Americans’ communications collected pursuant to Section 702 without a warrant, a critical reform not offered by other legislation on Section 702. It would also make major improvements by imposing strict limits on law enforcement use of Section 702 data, so that this foreign intelligence authority cannot be improperly used against low-level domestic crimes. And the bill would provide clear rules on notice, derivative use, and standing to prevent parallel construction and ensure defendants have the proper ability to challenge Section 702 in court. Unfortunately the bill does not limit the overbroad scope of collection, but does take a positive first step of requiring greater disclosure on why targets are designated for surveillance, and how prevalent targeting is for specific categories. Section 702 is set to expire on December 31. The Constitution Project strongly hopes Congress will act appropriately and pass reforms put forward in the USA RIGHTS Act to support both liberty and security.

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