Asian Americans Raise Alarm Over ‘Chilling Effects’ of Section 702 Surveillance Program

Dozens of prominent Asian American groups are calling on U.S. lawmakers this morning to stand firm in the face of an anticipated push by congressional leaders to expand the Section 702 oversight program by combining it, as a rider, to another bill “to be adopted”.

Sixty-three groups across the country representing and allied to the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have signed a letter There is “strong opposition” to any “near-term expansion” of the 702 program — surveillance, the groups say, that almost certainly affects Asian Americans at a disproportionate rate.

WIRED first reported last week on a ongoing efforts by U.S. Senate leaders to extend the 702 program, which is set to expire at the end of the year but could continue until April under the program’s “transition procedures.” Emails from WIRED seeking comment from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have gone unanswered since Friday.

“Section 702 and associated surveillance authorities have been misused to spy on Americans, including but not limited to protesters, journalists, campaign donors, and members of Congress,” it says. the letter, signed by the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Sikh Coalition. , Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the Stop AAPI Hate coalition, among dozens of other groups. The consequences of illegal surveillance have had a “devastating impact” on Asian Americans, they say, and on people’s “careers, livelihoods and reputations.”

Demanding that the 702 program be “continued through standalone legislation” and open to debate, the letter says a short-term solution would alienate lawmakers already willing to save the program — even if with strongly favored reforms. Renewing the program with a last-minute amendment inserted into a bill without which the government cannot function would only serve to undermine the democratic process, the groups say, and “jeopardize the long-term viability of the “article 702”.

“A lot of people are really concerned,” says Andy Wong, executive director of advocacy at Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition of community groups. He says the impact of government surveillance on the Asian American community is profound. “Whether it’s traveling, communicating with loved ones or doing anything abroad, even if it’s completely harmless, all this surveillance has a deterrent effect.”

“About two-thirds of Asian Americans are immigrants,” says Joanna YangQing Derman, program director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice, a civic engagement and civil rights nonprofit. “We are much more likely to have family, friends and associates abroad. As a result, Asian Americans are likely to be overrepresented in any data that Section 702 allows the government to collect. »

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