GOP Lawmaker Calls For Surveillance Tool Renewal

Hacker using laptop. Lots of digits on the computer screen.

( – On Thursday, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Turner, advocated for the renewal of a crucial U.S. government surveillance tool while proposing modifications to protect privacy.

Turner’s proposals come as a last-minute effort by Congress and the White House to ensure the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This section permits spy agencies to collect emails and other communications. These proposals, originating from a congressional working group, are expected to shape the foundation of a legislative package that Turner aims to pass before Section 702 expires at the end of the year.

Speaking to reporters, Turner stated that they expect major package reforms, unprecedented in nature, and the renewal of Section 702 before the year’s end.

The law allows U.S. officials to gather, without a warrant, communications from foreigners outside the country suspected of posing a national security threat. The government also intercepts the communications of American citizens and others within the U.S. when in contact with these targeted foreigners.

In the past year, the program faced scrutiny after revelations that FBI analysts inappropriately searched the intelligence database to pry information about individuals connected to the 2021 Capitol riot and the 2020 racial justice protests.

Turner’s proposed changes aim to increase penalties for such misuse. This includes granting Congress the authority to initiate mandatory inspector general reviews for alleged violations and strengthening restrictions on queries, especially when politically related. Additionally, Turner advocates limiting authorization for questions within the U.S. to a select group of FBI supervisors and attorneys.

The ongoing debate primarily focuses on whether U.S. officials need a warrant to access intelligence on individuals within the U.S.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and other lawmakers introduced a bill last week that mandates getting a warrant. However, the White House expressed opposition, stating that such a proposal would cross a “red line.” FBI Director Christopher Wray, during a hearing on Wednesday, informed lawmakers that requiring a court order would be legally unnecessary and could complicate crucial investigations amid increasing terrorism threats.

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