Senate Amends FISA Reauthorization Bill, Sends Back to the House

May 15, 2020

The Senate voted today to pass an amended version of the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020, which was passed by the House in March. The bill would end the NSA’s bulk telephone metadata program and make further reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The Senate agreed this week to further amendments by Senators Lee and Leahy that expand FISA protections, but rejected amendments proposed by Senators Wyden and Daines that would have protected Americans’ internet browsing and search histories. The adopted Leahy/Lee amendment strengthens the role of “amici curiae,” who are independent, expert advisors to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, by increasing their access to information, their power to raise issues with the Court, and the number of cases they are appointed in. Since amendments were adopted, the bill now returns to the House of Representatives for consideration. Members of both parties have expressed support for reform of the controversial NSA surveillance program. EPIC closely tracks the use of FISA authority. EPIC has advocated for significant FISA reforms, and recently advised Congress to limit Section 702 surveillance and to allow Section 215 to expire.

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