Congress Approves Of Extension of Warrantless Surveillance Powers

( – Congress has approved an extension of Section 702 of the FISA, or Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows certain government agents, under certain circumstances, to conduct surveillance on targets without the need to secure a warrant.

The FISA’s main application is ostensibly to conduct wiretapping or other covert surveillance against foreign targets overseas, but also covers Americans who communicate with these targets. Some – conservative lawmakers in particular – have also raised concerns that the provision could be implemented against U.S. citizens in the United States. GOP

The provision is part of a much bigger defense policy bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which extends Section 702 until April next year. Despite concerns, the bill passed in Congress with largely bipartisan support, 310 to 118. Lawmakers in the Senate also approved the bill on their end, 87 to 13. All that remains for the bill to become law is President Joe Biden’s signature.

Despite that fact though, conservative legislators are still crying foul over the inclusion of the extension for Section 702, which many feel should have been discussed separately. Republican Texas Representative Chip Roy said that the extension of Section 702 was sandwiched in other issues such as a 5.2% boost in pay for service members, as well as a $886 billion allocation for national defense programs.

Privacy rights groups also bemoaned the extension of Section 702. The American Civil Liberties Union called the passage of the bill a “disheartening” development that extends an “easily-abused law” without including any safeguards for the protection of the private information of Americans.

Aside from the extension, the bill also allocates hundreds of millions of dollars toward support for Israel and Ukraine, sets up a security partnership with the U.K. and Australia, and allows for several initiatives designed to put the U.S. in a better position against rivals like China and Russia.

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