US House Intelligence Committee’s Section 702 Reform’ Bill Marks The Biggest Expansion of Surveillance in United States Since the Patriot Act

“Buried in the House intelligence committee’s Section 702 “reform” bill, which is schedule for a floor vote as soon as [TODAY], is the biggest expansion of surveillance inside the United States since the Patriot Act,” writes Elizabeth Goitein, Co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice.”Under current law, the government can compel companies that have direct access to communications, such as phone, email, and text messaging service providers, to assist in Section 702 surveillance by turning over the communications of Section 702 targets.””FBI agents have been using the Section 702 databases to conduct millions of invasive searches for Americans’ communications, including those of protestersracial justice activists, 19,000 donors to a congressional campaign, journalists, and even members of Congress.””Under Section 504 of the House intelligence committee’s bill, any entity that has access to *equipment* on which communications may be transmitted or stored, such as an ordinary router, is fair game. What does that mean in practice?””Hotels, libraries, coffee shops, and other places that offer wifi to their customers could be forced to serve as surrogate spies. They could be required to configure their systems to ensure that they can provide the government access to entire streams of communications.””Even a repair person who comes to fix the wifi in your home would meet the revised definition: that person is an “employee” of a “service provider” who has “access” to “equipment” (your router) on which communications are transmitted.””The bill’s sponsors deny that Section 504 is intended to sweep so broadly. What *is* the provision intended to do, and how is the government planning to use it? Sorry, that’s classified.””At the end of the day, though, the government’s claimed intent matters little. What matters is what the provision, on its face, actually allows—because as we all know by now, the government will interpret and apply the law as broadly as it can get away with.””If you don’t want to have to worry that the NSA is tapping into communications at the hotel where you’re staying, tell your House representative to vote NO on the House intelligence bill this week. More on the many flaws with that bill here.””Instead, they should vote for the Protect Liberty & End Warrantless Surveillance Act, a bill passed by the House Judiciary Committee on a 35-2 vote that would reauthorize Sec. 702 with strong reforms to protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.”

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