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US Congress Passes Bill To Allow FBI To Conduct Warrantless Searches Under FISA Section 702, Allowing Electronic Data To Be Monitored

by Jacob M. Thompson


Last week the United States House of Representatives renewed a law that allows the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to conduct invasive searches on Americans without a warrant, which means that all electronic records and telecommunications (foreign and domestic) are available at the FBI’s disposal, in the name of preventing terrorism.

Receiving very little mainstream coverage, a bipartisan Congress voted to 273-147 to renew the deep surveillance clause under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Section 702. This clause comes up for renewal every five years to allow representatives to debate its necessity. This time, in order to sway over some Republicans, the renewal date was lowered to two years.

But before the final vote was taken, an amendment was proposed that forces the FBI to obtain a warrant to access these critical records and communications, but was deadlocked at 212-212, with Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson acting as the tiebreaker to shootdown the amendment.

Johnson had previously signaled that he was against this loophole the FISA act granted, and was prepared to vote against it, but in the days leading up to the vote he explained that he was convinced to change his tune.

When I was a member of [the House Judiciary Committee], I saw the abuses of the FBI, the terrible abuses over and over and over … and then when I became speaker, I went to the SCIF and got the confidential briefing on sort of the other perspective on that to understand the necessity of section 702 of FISA and how important it is for national security. And it gave me a different perspective.

Johnson said, CNN reported.


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