FISA Section 702 Reauthorization Bill Allowing NSA to Force US Businesses Serve as Surrogate Spies Advances to Senate

US House of Representatives voted 259-128 on Monday to prevent reconsideration of last week's FISA 702 bill. The expanded version of the bill is now heading to the Senate and is expected to be voted on this week.

FISA Section 702 Reauthorization Bill Allowing NSA to Force US Businesses Serve as Surrogate Spies Advances to Senate
  • "We have just days to convince the Senate NOT to pass a “terrifying” law that will force U.S. businesses to serve as NSA spies," said Elizabeth Goitein, Co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.
  • "Under current law, the government can compel “electronic communications service providers” that have direct access to communications to assist the NSA in conducting Section 702 surveillance. In practice, that means companies like Verizon and Google must turn over the communications of the targets of Section 702 surveillance. (The targets must be foreigners overseas, although the communications can—and do—include communications with Americans.)," explains Goitein.
  • "Through a seemingly innocuous change to the definition of “electronic communications surveillance provider,” an amendment offered by House intel committee (HPSCI) leaders and passed by the House vastly expands the universe of entities that can be compelled to assist the NSA."
  • "If the bill becomes law, any company or individual that provides ANY service whatsoever may be forced to assist in NSA surveillance, as long as they have access to equipment on which communications are transmitted or stored—such as routers, servers, cell towers, etc."
"The amendment even extends to service providers who come into our homes. House cleaners, plumbers, people performing repairs, and IT services providers have access to laptops and routers inside our homes and could be forced to serve as surrogate spies."
  • "None of these people or businesses would be allowed to tell anyone about the assistance they were compelled to provide. They would be under a gag order, and they would face heavy penalties if they failed to comply with it," said Goitein.
  • "That’s not even the worst part. Unlike Google and Verizon, most of these businesses and individuals lack the ability to isolate and turn over a target’s communications. So they would be required to give the NSA access to the equipment itself...or to use techniques or devices (presumably provided by the NSA) to copy and turn over entire communications streams and/or repositories of stored communications, which would inevitably include vast quantities of wholly domestic communications."
"HPSCI leaders deny that the administration has any intent to use this provision so broadly. Supposedly, there is a single type of service provider that the government wants to rope in. But they didn’t want anyone to know what that service provider was…so they hid the real goal by writing the amendment as broadly and vaguely as possible. But no worries, Americans! The administration isn’t actually going to USE all the power it just persuaded the House to give it."
  • "There are certain powers a government should not have in a democracy. The ability to force ordinary businesses and individuals to serve as surrogate spies is one of them. Even if the targets are supposed to be foreigners, a power this sweeping WILL be abused."
"The Senate MUST stop this train before it is too late. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the House-passed bill this week. If there’s an opportunity to remove this provision, senators should remove it. If not, they should vote against the bill."
  • "The White House will tell senators they have no choice other than to pass the House bill, because Section 702 expires on April 19, and trying to fix the House bill—or pass different legislation—would take too long. But the April 19 deadline exists only on paper," added Goitein.
US House of Representatives voted 259-128 on Monday to prevent reconsideration of last week's FISA 702 bill.
  • "The administration has already obtained FISA Court approval to continue Section 702 surveillance until April 2025. According to the administration itself, that approval “grandfathers” surveillance for a full year, even if Section 702 expires."
  • "A notional deadline is no reason to create a surveillance state. The Senate must take the time to get this right. It’s not just our civil liberties that are at stake—it’s our democracy," Elizabeth Goitein explained on X.
  • Court documents reveal that the FBI had improperly used FISA section 702 at least 300,000 times in the past – targeting journalists, activists, politicians, protestors and many others.
  • US Citizens can call their Senators using this call tool (or call 202-899-8938).

Goitein's Thread / Archive
Bloomberg Law Article / Archive
The Guardian Article / Archive
Call Senators Tool