Arizona Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) reintroduced the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act Wednesday, which seeks to prohibit warrantless surveillance of American citizens.
“We cannot continue to provide our government with clandestine spying powers that violate the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans,” Biggs said in a press release. “It’s imperative to have a surveillance apparatus to address national security concerns, but it also must protect Americans’ constitutional rights.”
“This legislation is necessary as we’ve uncovered countless numbers of FISA system abuse in recent years. From the Obama administration weaponizing it to sabotage Trump campaign officials to the FBI exploiting it to target millions of law-abiding Americans who were neither suspected of crimes nor national security concerns, FISA abuse is rampant and occurring at all levels in this country,” Biggs said “We cannot allow rogue and power-hungry individuals to repeat constitutional violations of American citizens. This legislation will prevent the government from infringing on our sacred Fourth Amendment rights.”
Six other Republican representatives co-sponsored this bill, including Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04).
Aside from repealing the FISA, the bill text also outlines prohibitions on surveilling U.S. citizens. To use surveillance techniques such as electronic surveillance, physical searches, or trap and trace devices, officers must obtain a warrant from a federal court. Any information on an American citizen obtained while surveying a non-U.S. citizen cannot be used against that citizen in criminal or civil court.
Any officer who breaks the regulations outlined in HR 8173 may be subject to a fine upwards of $10,000 and/or five years’ jail time.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, the FBI violated the privacy rights of thousands of Americans using the FISA. Section 702 of the FISA passed in 2008 and gave the National Security Agency (NSA) the authority to collect communications from foreigners for intelligence purposes. No warrant is required to do so, as foreigners do not have Fourth Amendment rights.
However, while the target is foreigners, Section 702 surveillance sweeps up massive amounts of American communications. While Congress requires the NSA to minimize the sharing, retention, and use of incidentally collected U.S. data, the NSA retains the data for a functional minimum of five years and shares that data with the FBI and CIA. The FBI allegedly combs through this data for domestic cases.
The Brennan Center for Justice shared that as of 2018, four significant opinions have been released from the FISA Court that outline non-compliance with rules meant to protect Americans’ privacy.
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