The Senate is sending a bill to the presidents desk to reinstate the government’s authority to conduct foreign surveillance on United Stated soil. Privacy advocates fought against this bill and even the president isn’t sure this bill is one that is a necessity. But the Senate voted on Thursday, 69 to 26 to start debating the bill. This bill will extend the National Security agency’s right to conduct surveillance for the next six years. The same day the Senate voted the House also passed the a vote 256 to 164 to approve the legislation and move it forward. The program’s authority expires January 19th, so they acted with haste and pushed it through. These votes by the House and the Senate show that law makers intend to move quickly to renew this bill.
This program is also referred to as Section 702. It got it’s name from it’s placement in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act. Established in 2008, this act was to be a key tool in the national security surveillance arsenal. Privacy advocates who oppose the law argue that there is not enough oversight and limits to government agencies who are monitoring those that may be in contact with those who could be foreign targets.
Although blocking the passing of this bill is highly unlikely, Senator Rand Paul, a republican from Kentucky, has vowed to do everything in his power to keep the bill from passing. The House made an effort to amend the bill to require that government agencies obtain warrants before being able to go through American’s information. This amendment did not pass and failed by a vote of 233 to 183.
The president himself feels like he has been a victim of the act Section 702. His tweets reflect his feelings about Section 702 and it does not appear that he is a fan. This is the same act that claims they have evidence of his dealings with Russia. More than once in the past Mr. Trump has expressed negative feelings toward the bill. But then he tweeted another tweet urging law makers to pass the bill. Trumps contradicting tweets seemed to cause some confusion and Democrats tried to demand that the bill be let to go.
Top government agencies are urging spy agencies to reveal the names of American’s and United States organizations if they think it will help them to better understand the need for Section 702. Although Rob Joyce, the White House Coordinator said there is not any evidence of abuse of Section 702 for political reasons. Some on the Trump campaign strongly disagree.
There seems to be no limits with Section 702. It allows government the warrant-less actions allowing them to invade the privacy of private American citizens through emails, text and phone communications. No president or government agencies should be allowed to have this power to invade the privacy of Americans.