Some of America’s largest civil liberties groups urge Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer not to prosecute a short-term extension The Section 702 Monitoring Program is scheduled to end on December 31.
More than 20 groups, including Demand Progress, the Brennan Center for Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union and Asian Americans Advancing Justice, oppose plans that would allow the program to continue temporarily by changing “mandatory” legislation, such as The bill is needed now to avoid a government shutdown by Friday, or the National Defense Authorization Act, annual legislation expected to dictate $886 billion in national security spending at the Pentagon and the U.S. Department of Defense. Energy in 2024.
“In its current form, [Section 702] is dangerous to our freedoms and our democracy, and it should not be renewed for an extended period without thorough debate, an opportunity for amendment and, ultimately, far-reaching reforms,” he said . letter groups to Schumer said. He added that any attempt to extend the program through a rushed amendment “would demonstrate a blatant disregard for the civil liberties and civil rights of the American people.”
Like WIRED did Previously reported, surveillance under the 702 program can technically continue for another six months, regardless of whether Congress reauthorizes it by the end of December. The program was last certified by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in April 2023 for a full year. “Transition procedures” codified in the statute allowing supervision orders to “remain in force” until they expire.
The 702 program is controversial because of its collection of communications from “American persons.” The program legally targets about a quarter of a million foreigners each year, collecting the contents of their text messages, emails and phone calls, but also intercepts an unknown but presumably significant amount of U.S. communications. This interception takes place with the forced cooperation of American telecommunications companies which manage Internet traffic at several levels on global networks.
The program includes procedures for intercepting, storing and querying information in ways that “minimize” the risks of violating Americans’ rights, but the rules are also subject to various exemptions. One of the main criticisms of the 702 program is that it allows the Federal Bureau of Investigation to access the calls and emails of U.S. citizens without a warrant and without proof that they have committed a crime.