Commentary: WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 11, 2018) - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for six years:
“The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was originally intended to collect the communications of foreign targets, which is without controversy. However, it has become disturbingly routine for the government to search through the communications of Americans whose information has been inadvertently swept up under this surveillance program.
“Searching through the communications of any American should require a warrant before the search takes place. Congress must preserve the ability to collect information that is actually necessary to guard against threats to our security, while also guarding the privacy of innocent Americans, which the framers understood was vital to American liberties. I am opposed to renewing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Actâ€‹ until these necessary safeguards are put in place."
Senator Heinrich is a cosponsor of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Reforming and Improving the Government's High-Tech Surveillance (USA RIGHTS) Act, introduced by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), that reforms Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to end warrantless backdoor searches of Americans' calls, emails, and other communications that are routinely swept up under a program designed to spy on foreign targets. The sweeping authority has been clouded in secrecy, in part because the government refuses to answer essential questions about how it impacts Americans, including how many American communications the government collects.