Today, the USA RIGHTS Act, which is aimed at reforming a secretive government surveillance program, was introduced in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The bipartisan bill, which would make major changes to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), would create stronger protections for the rights of American citizens while also allowing intelligence agencies to conduct targeted surveillance. The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) supports the USA RIGHTS Act and believes it is the best proposal currently before Congress. Section 702 is set to expire at the end of 2017 unless Congress acts.
“The USA RIGHTS Act offers government surveillance reform that Americans need and constitutionally should have,” said Michelle Richardson, CDT Deputy Director of the Freedom, Security, and Technology Project. “Most importantly, it would close the backdoor loophole in Section 702 that allows the government to search the mass troves of data collected through the program for the private communications of Americans without obtaining a warrant. The law was clearly never intended for this egregious use, and the USA RIGHTS Act finally makes that clear.”
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence met today to consider different legislation that would reauthorize Section 702. A leaked draft of that bill showed few actual reforms, although several amendments were expected to be heard at the markup. While it often takes weeks for the Intelligence Committee to release legislation after a markup, CDT strongly urges the committee to publish the final bill immediately to advance this urgent debate.
You can find more information about CDT’s advocacy around Section 702 and government surveillance reform here.