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Jayapal, Biggs, Hoyle, Armstrong, Lead Bipartisan Letter Urging FISA 702 Standalone Bill and Privacy Votes

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Andy Biggs (AZ-05), Val Hoyle (OR-04), Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL), and a bipartisan group of 38 colleagues are urging House Leadership to oppose any attempt to attach reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to “must-pass” legislation and to allow floor votes on crucial reforms to protect the privacy rights of Americans. 

“Congress has a duty to protect Americans’ right to privacy, it’s that simple,” said Jayapal. “We have the opportunity to reform FISA and protect Americans’ civil rights and civil liberties by overhauling Section 702 and stopping unwarranted surveillance from intelligence agencies. Any attempts to extend or expand section 702 will put Americans’ sensitive data at risk. We cannot allow this to happen, and especially not by rushing it through in ‘must-pass’ legislation.”

“We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to warrantless surveillance in America. Congress has a real opportunity to make critical reforms to the FISA 702 spying authority. For more than a year, our bipartisan coalition worked to find common ground on reforms to protect Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights. But consideration in the House has been repeatedly stalled by Members fearful that the will of the House could lead to fundamental reforms of the program. It’s time to dispense with the temper tantrums and allow the full House to consider how best to end warrantless spying on Americans. Any effort to extend Section 702 authorities without reform should be a nonstarter,” said Biggs.

Section 702 authorizes the federal government to intercept electronic communications of non-U.S. persons who are located outside of the United States. However, the communications of Americans are often swept up when monitoring non-U.S. persons, are then kept by intelligence agencies, and can be later accessed without a warrant. This type of backdoor surveillance has occurred for decades and allows for rampant abuse of the FISA authorities. 

In 2022 alone, the FBI used Section 702 over 200,000 times to search for Americans’ data, circumventing the Fourth Amendment. In December, the House Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly advanced H.R. 6570, the Protect Liberty and End Warrantless Surveillance Act (PLEWSA) to reform the FISA 702 authority and end these abuses. However, House Leadership has not brought this legislation to the floor for a vote. The current form of Section 702 expires on April 19, 2024.

The letter was also signed by Representatives Becca Balint (VT-At Large), Dan Bishop (NC-08), Lauren Boebert (CO-03), Josh Brecheen (OK-02), Eric Burlison (MO-07), Cori Bush (MO-01), Judy Chu (CA-28), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Ben Cline (VA-06), Michael Cloud (TX-27), Andrew Clyde (GA-09), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Elijah Crane (AZ-02), Warren Davidson (OH-08), Christopher Deluzio (PA-17), Lloyd Doggett (TX-37), Valerie Foushee (NC-04), Matt Gaetz (FL-01), Harriet Hageman (WY-At Large), Clay Higgins (LA-03), Sara Jacobs (CA-51), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), Anna Paulina Luna (FL-13), Nancy Mace (SC-01), Thomas Massie (KY-04), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Alexander Mooney (WV-02), Barry Moore (AL-02), Andrew Ogles (TN-05), Katie Porter (CA-47), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), John Rose (TN-06), Matt Rosendale (MT-02), Chip Roy (TX-21), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Mark Takano (CA-39), Randy Weber (TX-14).

It was endorsed by the ACLU; Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC; Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law; Center for Democracy & Technology; Defending Rights & Dissent; Demand Progress; Due Process Institute; Electronic Frontier Foundation; Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC); FreedomWorks; Project On Government Oversight; Project for Privacy and Surveillance Accountability; Restore The Fourth; and S.T.O.P. – Surveillance Technology Oversight Project.

The full letter can be read here.