facebook linkedin twitter

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

Court Rejects Lawsuit Against NSA on "State Secrets" Grounds

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — A divided federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of an ACLU lawsuit challenging a... Read More

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — A divided federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of an ACLU lawsuit challenging a portion of the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance of Americans' international email and phone communications.  The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the... Read More

August 30, 2021
by Victoria Turner
FTC Commissioner Says There are Benefits to a Federal Privacy Law

WASHINGTON -- As a number of states move towards enacting their own data privacy laws, the U.S. Congress should come... Read More

WASHINGTON -- As a number of states move towards enacting their own data privacy laws, the U.S. Congress should come up with its own comprehensive privacy statute enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, said FTC Commissioner Noah Phillips Monday. Having one federal privacy law governing data... Read More

June 30, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Congress Told FBI Often Violates Privacy With Poorly Monitored Internet Warrants

WASHINGTON -- Free press advocates told Congress Wednesday that the Justice Department is out of control in secretly seeking Internet-based... Read More

WASHINGTON -- Free press advocates told Congress Wednesday that the Justice Department is out of control in secretly seeking Internet-based information about its political adversaries. Comments from lawmakers during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee indicated the FBI and other Justice Department agencies are close... Read More

May 19, 2021
by TWN Staff
Nevada Considering New Web Privacy Protections for COVID Sites

CARSON CITY, Nev. - Nevada lawmakers are fast-tracking emergency legislation to bolster web privacy protections after a nonprofit news organization... Read More

CARSON CITY, Nev. - Nevada lawmakers are fast-tracking emergency legislation to bolster web privacy protections after a nonprofit news organization revealed the state's COVID-19 vaccine information site contained the most trackers in the country. The legislation, introduced by Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus, would broaden the... Read More

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

As vaccine eligibility expands to those 16 and over in many states, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning those... Read More

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

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

WASHINGTON — As states begin to consider consumer privacy legislation, Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., is renewing her push for a... Read More

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

News From The Well
scroll top