By David Ruiz | (Electronic Frontier Foundation) | – –
The debate over how to reauthorize certain NSA surveillance authorities has seen a whirlwind of activity, culminating in the major news that the House Rules Committee postponed a vote today to potentially expand NSA spying powers.
As we wrote yesterday:
“According to reports published Tuesday evening by Politico, a group of surveillance hawks in the House of Representatives is trying to ram through a bill that would extend mass surveillance by the National Security Agency. We expect a vote to happen on the House floor as early as [December 20], which means there are only a few hours to rally opposition.
The backers of this bill are attempting to rush a vote on a bill that we’ve criticized for failing to secure Americans’ privacy. If this bill passes, we will miss the opportunity to prevent the FBI from searching through NSA databases for American communications without a warrant. Worse, nothing will be done to rein in the massive, unconstitutional surveillance of the NSA on Americans or innocent technology users worldwide.”
With the House Rules Committee’s postponed vote, this crisis is currently avoided. But the fight isn’t over.
We do not know the exact steps House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, who authored the bill (H.R. 4478), will take this week. We do not know if other bills to reauthorize Section 702, originally enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act—the NSA’s powerful surveillance authority scheduled to sunset in less than two weeks—will be introduced for a House floor vote.
But we do know that our voices are being heard. And we still know that we stand against attempts to expand NSA surveillance by hitching it to separate efforts to fund the government, a strategy that some members of Congress have considered.
As we wrote previously:
“[It] is completely unacceptable for Congressional leadership to shove Section 702 reauthorization into an end-of-year funding bill. This program invades the privacy of an untold number of Americans. Before it can be reauthorized, Congress must undertake a transparent and deliberative process to consider the impact
this NSA surveillance has on Americans’ privacy.”
You can speak up. Call your representatives and let them know that it is unacceptable to attach H.R. 4478—or S. 2010—to any year-end spending bills. Attempts to sneak expanded NSA surveillance powers into entirely separate legislation are attempts to rob surveillance reform of its own needed debate. This hurts the American people and it removes the opportunity for open, transparent discussion.
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