Lawmakers reauthorize US spying law that critics claim expands the government's surveillance of Americans

Lawmakers recently passed legislation early Saturday that will authorize and expand Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The controversial bill will allow the government to collect communications of foreign individuals by accessing records from phone and tech providers, per Tech Crunch.

The bill passed with a 60-34 vote.

However, critics have not been silent about the recent development. Some have suggested that the piece of legislation will allow the government to sweep up Americans’ information while spying on foreign targets.

White House officials came to the defense of the effort to reauthorize FISA, stating that the law will prevent terrorists and cyber attacks and that a lapse in such powers would hurt the U.S. government’s ability to gather important intelligence.

Privacy advocates and rights groups shot down the reauthorization of FISA, which does not require the FBI or NSA to get warrants before searching the Section 702 database for Americans’ communications.

The White House published the following statement after the legislation was passed.

We applaud the Senate’s passage of H.R. 7888, the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act. This legislation, which passed the House last week and the Senate tonight with broad bipartisan support, will renew and reform Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) – one of the United States’ most vital intelligence collection tools. The Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act will retain essential authority to understand and protect against a wide range of dangerous threats to Americans while enhancing safeguards for privacy and civil liberties through the most robust set of reforms ever included in legislation to reauthorize Section 702.
The President will swiftly sign the bill into law, ensuring that our security professionals can continue to rely on Section 702 to detect grave national security threats and use that understanding to protect the United States.

Senator Ron Wyden, a Democratic privacy hawk and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, accused lawmakers of holding out “until the 11th hour to ram through renewal of warrantless surveillance in the dead of night.”

“Time after time anti-reformers pledge that their band-aid changes to the law will curb abuses, and yet every time, the public learns about fresh abuses by officials who face little meaningful oversight,” Wyden said in a statement.

The bill ultimately passed shortly after midnight.

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