The GOP-led House renewed Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows the government to spy on foreigners abroad by a vote of 256 to 164. Section 702 remains controversial because it can sweep up Americans in the process.

Section 702 does not allow officials to spy on Americans or people in the states, but “the FISA Amendment Act allows the government to collect data from American firms, such as Google or Microsoft.”

At Reason, Scott Shackford wrote that “it also codifies permission for the FBI to access and use data secretly collected by Americans for a host of criminal cases that have nothing to do with protecting America from foreign threats.”

From time to time, lawmakers have tried to push through warrants into the section, but Shackford noted that experts have explained that “the law was worded so that it applies only if you’re a suspect of a crime.”

Yes, you read that correctly. A suspect of a crime “have greater protections under the law than those who just have their data and communications snatched up en masse.”

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) provided myths and facts about Section 702:

https://twitter.com/justinamash/status/951192608293998593

https://twitter.com/justinamash/status/951192608293998593

Amash proposed an amendment that received bipartisan support, but it failed 233-183. His amendment, the USA RIGHTS Act, would have replaced the text. Reason explained:

The FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017—pushed by the intelligence committees of both the House and the Senate—explicitly authorizes the exact violations of citizens’ privacy that Amash and company are trying to stop. Rather than demanding that the FBI and NSA get warrants before they access Americans’ private data and communications, it does the opposite: It gives the feds formal permission to snoop on citizens for a list of federal crimes without getting a warrant first.

Amash has introduced a substitute amendment in the House that would replace the text with the contents of the USA RIGHTS Act. This is an alternative bill sponsored by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in the Senate and by Amash, Ted Poe (R-Texas), and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) in the House.

The USA Rights Act would restrain the feds from using information collected in secret unwarranted FISA searches as evidence in court cases. It would also forbid “about” searches, where feds snoop on communications that are “about” a target as opposed to just communications to and from that target. And it would forbid “reverse targeting,” where the feds snoop on foreign targets for the purpose of accessing the communications of the Americans talking to them.

Here is an image of his proposal from Twitter:

https://twitter.com/justinamash/status/951192608293998593

HOWEVER! The Senate may provide us some hope. As I said, Amash’s charge included bipartisan support. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) have sponsored an amendment in the Senate similar to Amash’s amendment.

Paul hinted he will filibuster while Wyden flat out declared he will: