White House, intel chiefs want to make internet spying law permanent

White House, intel chiefs want to make internet spying law permanent

White House, intel chiefs want to make internet spying law permanent

The Trump administration supports making permanent a law that allows for the collection of digital communications of foreigners believed to be living overseas and which pass through USA phone or internet providers, a senior White House official said.

Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act - the legislation used to permit the NSA to conduct online surveillance - is due to expire at the end of the year.

The law, set to expire at the end of the year, has been criticized repeatedly by privacy advocates who say it allows for the data of millions of USA citizens to be swept up in government surveillance.

- "We have good reasons to be concerned about the impact of section 702 on the criminal justice system" Sarah St.Vincent writes in JustSecurity.org: "While this monitoring has considerable human rights implications for the foreigners who are targeted, it is likely that the dragnet is also capturing large numbers of USA persons" communications.

"We can not allow adversaries overseas to cloak themselves in the legal protections we extend to Americans", White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert wrote in an editorial published in the New York Times newspaper on Wednesday.

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John McCain sat on Wednesday's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing into the Russian Federation probe and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

But Coats downplayed such concerns, calling the law a vital tool in the fight against terrorism.

At a hearing about Section 702, Dan Coats said that the promised estimates of Americans affected by surveillance would not be provided.

The statute, which allows the National Security Agency a wide berth in the collection of foreigners' digital communications, normally comes with a "sunset" clause roughly every five years to allow lawmakers to reconsider its impact on privacy and civil liberties.

The statement ran counter to what senior intelligence officials had previously promised both publicly and in private briefings during the previous administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat, lawmakers and congressional staffers working on drafting reforms to Section 702 said. Congress must vote to renew Section 702 to avoid its expiration on December 31.

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Privacy advocates panned the push to make Section 702 permanent, arguing that regular reviews of the law were necessary to conduct appropriate oversight and prevent potential abuses.

- A hypocritical move: from Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU Legislative Counsel: "President Trump thinks surveillance is just 'terrible.'".

Disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013 revealed the sweeping nature of 702 surveillance, prompting outrage internationally and embarrassing some USA technology firms shown to be involved in a program known as Prism.

Making the law permanent without changes would preclude codifying that change.

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