Most readers know that the House has reauthorized FISA-702 through December 31, 2025. It allows unelected bureaucrats to capture non-US persons’ data without a warrant for foreign intelligence purposes, but they routinely capture US citizens’ data in their sweeps. The bill was amended, and it’s now worse than it was. The vehicle for modification is HR 6611, which CDT calls a Trojan Horse.
FISA-7O2 was to sunset on December 31st, 2023, and there was desperation in the upper echelons to renew it. The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) reports that a provision now exists in the bill to expand surveillance under this act [to an endless reach into US businesses].
Section 504 of the bill, “Definition of Electronic Communications Service Provider,” would expand the types of entities that can be compelled to disclose internet communications, whether in storage or transit.
This section allows the US government to compel communication service providers to disclose communications of persons reasonably believed to be non-US persons abroad, and no warrant is needed. Previously, only communication services like email, calls, and text messaging could be compelled.
It means that anyone with mere access to the equipment on which such communications are stored or transmitted must disclose them. It could be a cafe, a hotel, a workplace, an airport, a landlord, and so on.
Previously, the FISA court had rejected this in a rare decision.
With this provision, businesses could be forced to change their infrastructure and operations to facilitate access. You can see the danger in this.
Is there any doubt they will over-collect in broad sweeps? CDT explores this.
CDT also notes that this will deal a severe blow to the global competitiveness of US businesses.
As per Joe Biden’s executive order issued in October last year, they want to centralize intelligence surveillance and become even more powerful.
We’ve already seen how government can weaponize this kind of information. FISA-702 is entirely in the hands of the executive branch except on those occasions when lawmakers reauthorize its use. No one is ever held accountable when they violate a FISA, which encourages more violations. We saw the abuses during Russiagate. It was used to find dirt and promote lies against a political opponent.
It still has to pass the Senate. Hopefully, they won’t let it go through.