Reform government surveillance now

NSA spying through laptop and smartphone

The Trump administration is spying on us. It’s wrong, un-American, and unconstitutional.

Under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the National Security Agency operates at least two spying programs, PRISM and Upstream, which threaten our privacy and violate our Fourth Amendment rights.

Section 702 will expire in 2017, so Congress has to decide soon whether to reauthorize or replace it. We have a real chance at winning important reform to put constitutional limits back on government surveillance.

The surveillance permitted under Section 702 sweeps up emails, instant messages, video chats, and phone calls, and stores them in databases that we estimate include at least one billion communications. Based on some estimates, roughly half of these files contain information about a U.S. citizen or resident.

Spying on U.S. residents without a warrant? That’s not a mistake – that’s exactly the point. The NSA designed these spying programs to have such an enormous scope in order to pick up the communications of Americans without needing to make a case to a judge. Right now Section 702 grants the U.S. government the power to surveil any foreigner overseas who possesses “foreign intelligence information.” That’s so broad it can easily include journalists and human rights activists – and any communications they have with Americans. This spying regime has especially severe implications for anyone who regularly communicates with people abroad – international businesses, immigrants with family abroad, or even lawyers with global clients.

In this country the Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures. Warrantless surveillance under Section 702 is without question an unreasonable search and seizure, giving FBI, CIA, and NSA agents frighteningly easy access to some of our most private communications. One Justice Department lawyer called the Section 702 database the “FBI’s ‘Google.’” The FBI has routinely searched through these databases for reasons that have nothing to do with investigating terrorism.

Congress must reform Section 702 to bring it in line with the rule of law. They can start by narrowing the NSA’s overly broad definition of who can be spied on, end the government’s warrantless “backdoor searches” of Americans’ private data, and anchor in law certain restrictions that the NSA recently adopted but can easily reinstate.

Take action – add your name now to call for critical reform to Section 702.

To Congress:

Stop the unchecked, warrantless surveillance of Americans under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This statute violates our Fourth Amendment rights. Specifically, you must end “backdoor” searches, narrow the scope of the surveillance, codify the end to “about” surveillance, and put in place other necessary reforms.