Gabbard Backs Bipartisan Amendment to Protect Americans’ Civil Liberties From Unconstitutional Warrantless Surveillance
Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a founding member of the Congressional Fourth Amendment Caucus, joined a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in introducing the USA RIGHTS amendment to protect the privacy of Americans’ communications. The amendment would reform Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to end warrantless backdoor searches of Americans' calls, emails, texts and other communications that are swept up under a program designed to spy on foreign targets. The amendment mirrors Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Preventing Unconstitutional Collection Act (H.R.2588) introduced last year, and also includes provisions of Gabbard’s SPOT Act. It is supported by the ACLU, FreedomWorks, NAACP, Campaign for Liberty, and others.
The FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S.139) is scheduled for a vote in the House tomorrow, January 11.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Tomorrow, Congress is slated to reauthorize a program that for years has allowed our government to unconstitutionally collect and retain Americans’ phone calls, emails, and other online communication. This gross exploitation of privacy is an affront to the Fourth Amendment rights of every American and must be stopped immediately. It’s critical we strike a balance between protecting our national security and the civil liberties of every American. Our bipartisan amendment does just that, by maintaining certain authorities necessary to keep the American people safe, while ensuring we are protecting their civil liberties and constitutional rights.”
Key provisions of the USA Rights Amendment include:
- Prohibiting the government from collecting communications that it knows are fully domestic for targeting purposes.
- Prohibiting the government from intentionally collecting communications which aren’t sent to or from an actual surveillance target, also known as “about” collections, which tends to result in substantially more Americans’ data being collected
- Prohibiting the reverse targeting of Americans, where the government “targets” a foreigner’s communications largely for the purpose of sweeping in an American’s communications
- Requiring approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for the government to force American companies to assist with Sec. 702 surveillance and requires the assistance to be necessary and narrowly tailored
- Requiring a warrant to search the government’s database of Sec. 702 data for communications to, from, or about an American
- Ensuring that our foreign intelligence programs are used for foreign intelligence purposes by preventing the use of warrantlessly collected Sec. 702 data against Americans in court unless the proceeding involves preventing terrorism, espionage, use of a weapon of mass destruction, incapacitation of critical infrastructure, foreign cyber threats, or threats to U.S. personnel or our allies
- Strengthening the existing requirement that the government give due notice to defendants when Sec. 702 data is used against them in court
- Providing the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board with subpoena power to compel testimony or produce documents without the prior approval of the U.S. Attorney General.