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House Judiciary introduces FISA reform bill

Section 702 is slated to expire at the end of the year and the legislation is likely to spark significant debate in Congress in the few remaining weeks of 2023.

Published: December 4, 2023 7:17pm

A group of lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee has unveiled legislation Monday to restrict the intelligence community's warrantless surveillance authority and impose stiffer punishments for violations.

Spearheaded by Arizona GOP Rep. Andy Biggs, the plan boasts Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Ranking member Jerold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., as cosponsors, The Hill reported.

The measure would restrict the number of FBI personnel who could conduct searches under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and impose a requirement that law enforcement obtain a warrant to examine information on Americans. 

FISA's Section 702 permits the warrantless surveillance of foreigner's abroad, a process that often results in the accumulation of communications from Americans with whom the subjects engage. The surveillance tool, however, has come under intense scrutiny amid Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) determinations that the intelligence community has improperly surveilled Americans.

Section 702 is slated to expire at the end of the year and the legislation is likely to spark significant debate in Congress in the few remaining weeks of 2023. The issue, however, has attracted support from both ends of the political spectrum, with House progressives and conservatives uniting last week to urge congressional leadership not to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act by tying it to a defense spending bill.

"The intelligence community is attacking our Fourth Amendment privacy rights. Rogue actors continue to abuse FISA Section 702 to improperly spy on American citizens, and it is far past time for the practice to come to an end. The Fourth Amendment guarantees Americans a reasonable expectation of privacy, and the government should never be given the opportunity to skirt the supreme Law of the Land," Biggs said at the time. "Reauthorization of this spying authority cannot be tied to a massive piece of ‘must-pass’ legislation like the NDAA. This would be an affront to the American people—who have voiced their strong disapproval of Section 702—and to the integrity of the legislative process."

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter.

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