Senate Passes Amended FISA Surveillance Overhaul

May 15, 2020by Niels Lesniewski, CQ-Roll Call (TNS)
A private tour appears above the Capitol rotunda. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday easily passed an amended bill to revive and increase oversight of surveillance powers.

Senators voted, 80-16, to pass the measure before finishing up work on Capitol Hill for the week. Under a previous agreement, 60 votes were required.

The measure will now return to the House, since senators voted Wednesday to adopt a bipartisan amendment expanding the number of cases before the secretive intelligence court in which an outside legal counsel would be appointed.

The amendment from Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Democratic Sen. Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont was adopted with the overwhelming support of 77 senators despite warnings from leaders that it could prolong the lapse in authorization of important intelligence powers.

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. But men are not angels, so our government will always need oversight and accountability to make sure it doesn’t abuse its power. The Lee-Leahy Amendment just passed by the Senate will help bring some much-needed oversight and accountability to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” Lee said in a statement ahead of Thursday’s vote. “More work still needs to be done, but this is good reform in the right direction, and I look forward to final passage of this FISA reform legislation.”

Earlier in the day, senators easily turned back an amendment offered by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul that sought to block using warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court against U.S. persons. Paul argued that the surveillance powers under FISA should only be used against foreigners. His amendment was rejected, 11-85.

“The deficiency of the FISA court, and why it’s not constitutional, is you don’t get a lawyer,” Paul said on the Senate floor, discussing the FISA warrants issued against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. “You actually don’t even get told that you’ve been accused of a crime. The only reason we know that President (Donald) Trump’s campaign got caught up in this is he won. … If this had been an ordinary American caught up in this, you would never be told.”

The FISA measure passed Thursday would revive lapsed authorizations for three tools in the foreign intelligence toolbox that expired in March, before the coronavirus pandemic came to dominate the congressional agenda.

The bill would revive the authorization for new Section 215 orders that allow for the collection of business and other records of individuals through the FISA court and a roving wiretap provision that permits the government to get orders targeting people who frequently change phone lines or use so-called burner devices to avoid traditional wiretaps on individual lines.

It would also reauthorize the “Lone Wolf” provision, which is a power designed to target suspected individual terrorists.

Sen. John Cornyn, a member of both the Intelligence and Judiciary committees, argued in a floor speech Wednesday that the authorizations should be restored, with additional oversight protections, despite concerns about past misuse of the broader intelligence law.

“By and large, these are tools that are used by law enforcement on a daily basis for domestic critical cases. Yet we are going to deny those tools to our counterintelligence officials? It makes no sense whatsoever,” the Texas Republican said. “Our counterintelligence and counterterrorism experts rely on those authorities to keep us safe.”

———

©2020 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Privacy

Posting Vaccine Cards Online Could Attract Scammers
Privacy
Posting Vaccine Cards Online Could Attract Scammers
March 29, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck

As vaccine eligibility expands to those 16 and over in many states, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning those getting shots against posting photos of their vaccine cards online.  “I’ve seen people wanting to be proud and show off that they got their first vaccine,... Read More

DelBene Renews Push for Consumer Privacy Law
Privacy
DelBene Renews Push for Consumer Privacy Law
March 10, 2021
by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON — As states begin to consider consumer privacy legislation, Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., is renewing her push for a federal statute on the matter.  California and Virginia have already enacted comprehensive state data privacy laws, but DelBene said a federal standard is necessary for ensuring... Read More

Portland First to Ban Private Entities From Using Facial Recognition Technology
Cities
Portland First to Ban Private Entities From Using Facial Recognition Technology
September 11, 2020
by Kate Michael

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland officials voted on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, in favor of the nation’s first-ever ban on private entities using facial recognition technology in its city public spaces. In a second ordinance approved on the same day, the City Council voted to ban local... Read More

Researchers Push for Public Test of Census Privacy Tools
Census
Researchers Push for Public Test of Census Privacy Tools

WASHINGTON — The Census Bureau says it has improved its ability to give accurate data while protecting the privacy of its 2020 questionnaire responses, but experts worry they won’t be able to test the agency’s strategy before it is finalized. The tweaks to the new method... Read More

Senate Passes Amended FISA Surveillance Overhaul
Privacy
Senate Passes Amended FISA Surveillance Overhaul

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday easily passed an amended bill to revive and increase oversight of surveillance powers. Senators voted, 80-16, to pass the measure before finishing up work on Capitol Hill for the week. Under a previous agreement, 60 votes were required. The measure... Read More

Fever-Reading Drones Just First of a Wave of Privacy Challenges, Civil Liberties Advocates Say
Privacy
Fever-Reading Drones Just First of a Wave of Privacy Challenges, Civil Liberties Advocates Say

MIAMI — Last month, police departments in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Connecticut unveiled what was initially touted as a potential new tool against a pandemic: drones capable of taking a person’s temperature from 300 feet in the air. Both agencies quickly backtracked on using the machines... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top