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Paul, Wyden stand up for your privacy

October 31, 2013

by Sam Rolley

Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Tuesday introduced legislation to require the federal government to obtain a warrant before digging through U.S. communications as permitted by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The Trump administration has called on Congress to reauthorize some of the most powerful portions of the Section 702 approval that allows federal officials to collect massive troves of communications data in its spy dragnet before the spy provision sunsets at the end of the year. The administration wants the 702 spying authorities extended indefinitely.

But Paul and Wyden are pushing back with legislation that would re-authorize the spying power with some major new checks on the government’s ability to potential to spy on American citizens under the auspice of catching foreign terrorists.

Among the changes the lawmakers are seeking are new rules that would require federal investigators to obtain a warrant to review and American communications data swept up under 702 surveillance and notify Americans when such information is likely to be used against them.

Importantly, the bill would also force lawmakers to revisit Section 702 surveillance in four years.

Wyden said reauthorizing the spy measure as the Trump administration has requested would be akin to Congress handing over an indefinite “end-run around the Constitution.”

“Congress must not continue to allow our constitutional standard of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ to be twisted into ‘If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,’” Paul similarly argued.. “The American people deserve better from their own government than to have their Internet activity swept up in warrantless, unlimited searches that ignore the Fourth Amendment.”

The bill currently has nine co-sponsors in the Senate and a companion version is gaining steam in the House.

Legislative conversations regarding Section 702 have recently been far more pro-privacy across the board than in the past after it became public earlier this year that several top-level officials had become the subject of 702 surveillance during the Obama administration.

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