US Government missed a historic opportunity to reform a dangerous surveillance law that opens to a global surveillance, instead it has signed a version that makes it worse.
The U.S. legal framework related to the domestic surveillance has been signed by President Trump one day after the Senate approved it with 65 votes against 34. The bill will be effective for other six years, below the Edward Snowden’s comment:
65 Senators just voted to expand an unconstitutional law permitting Trump to spy on communications with one leg in the US–without a warrant. For the next six years, any unencrypted internet request that even touches a US border will be "ingested" (intercepted) and parsed by NSA. https://t.co/4zkFnamcIe
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 18, 2018
Privacy advocates and civil rights have a long criticized the Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that allows US intelligence agencies to conduct domestic surveillance under certain conditions without a warrant.
The Section 702 allows the NSA to conduct warrantless spying of foreigners located abroad, including any communications with US citizens.
Section 702 was revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2012. Civil rights and privacy advocates consider it as unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment.
The bill increases spying powers of intelligence agencies and block safeguards, curiously it was passed by Republicans who always criticized the corruption of the Government.
“There is a glimmer of light,” “The last few weeks have demonstrated that bipartisan efforts to reform our surveillance laws continue on an arc of progress.” wrote ACLU legislative counsel Neema Singh Guliani in a blog post.
“With only two more votes, reformers could have halted this bill from advancing and forced a floor debate over badly needed improvements. And an effort to pass the most comprehensive Section 702 reform bill introduced in Congress garnered the support of over 180 members in the House. With actual debate, real reform provisions likely would have passed.”
Just hours before the section 702 program was signed by the President, the Senate’s intelligence committee approved the release of a confidential four-page memo alleging previous abuse of the FISA spying program to the rest of Congress.
“Scores of Republicans have since viewed the document in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility on Capitol Hill. They left expressing shock, saying the special counsel investigation into whether Trump’s campaign officials had improper contacts with Russia is based on politically motivated actions at the highest level of law enforcement.” reported The Hill.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) called the memo “shocking.”
““I’m here to tell all of a America tonight that I’m shocked to read exactly what has taken place,” Meadows (R-N.C.) said in a speech on the House floor.
“I thought it could never happen in a country that loves freedom and democracy like this country. It is time that we become transparent with all of this, and I’m calling on our leadership to make this available so all Americans can judge for themselves.”
Politicians opposing the section 702 program are defining its contents “worse than Watergate.”
In conclusion, this is a black page in the history of Americans. The 6-year extension of the regulation that allows the US government to monitor foreigners’ communications abroad without a warrant has been approved. Moreover, the US intelligence will also be able to spy on American citizens, politicians, businessmen, and journalists who communicate with them, despite the Fourth Amendment.
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