EPIC, Coalition Urge Opposition to RISAA Absent Votes on Key Reforms

April 5, 2024

EPIC and a coalition of privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights groups wrote a letter to Speaker Mike Johnson and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries expressing our strong opposition to the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act (RISAA), H.R.7320, and urging them “to oppose its consideration on the House Floor unless members have the opportunity to vote on amendments that were critical components of this legislation’s negotiated introduction” – including amendments to close the backdoor search and data broker loopholes. According to recent news reports, Speaker Johnson is expected to bring RISAA to the floor next week.

In our letter, the coalition notes that “more than three quarters of provisions in RISAA come directly from [the House Intelligence Committee’s] legislation, and less than a quarter from Judiciary’s, even though the Judiciary Committee has primary jurisdiction[,]” and therefore RISAA, on its own, “must not be mistaken as a compromise.”

Provisions taken from HPSCI’s legislation include:

  • Special privacy protections exclusively for members of Congress;
  • A sham “reform” of U.S. person queries that would have prevented the FBI from accessing Americans’ communications in only two instances in 2022, a year in which the FBI conducted 204,090 backdoor searches, and which would not cover any of the most egregious known misuses of backdoor searches;
  • Codifications of existing procedures that have already proven unable to prevent thousands of non-compliant searches each year, including wrongful queries on a U.S. Senator, a state senator, and a state court judge who contacted the FBI to report civil rights violations by a local police chief; and
  • Provisions that would actually weaken accountability and oversight by the FISA Court amici, whose ability to raise civil liberties issues would be limited.

EPIC has published a blog series focused on explaining Section 702 and the need to reform it. EPIC and a bipartisan coalition of civil society groups have called for broad reform to Section 702 and related surveillance authorities.

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