Lawmakers Want to Restrict NSA’s Internet Surveillance

A legislation that would overhaul aspects of the National Security Agency’s warrantless internet surveillance has been revealed by a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers. It is expected that the bill, written by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, spikes debate in Washington over the balance between security and privacy.

The civil liberties groups regard it as a chance in Congress to reform the law before it expires on December 31. The law is also known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, that allows U.S. intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on and store vast amounts of digital communications from foreign suspects living outside the U.S. This law is the most vital tool to thwart treats to national security, according to senior intelligence officials.

But the program incidentally gathers communications of Americans, including if they communicate with a foreign target living overseas and the Federal Bureau of Investigation can search those communications without a warrant.

Reuters reported that a discussion draft of the legislation partially restricts the FBI’s ability to access American data collected under Section 702 by requiring the agency to obtain a warrant when seeking evidence of a crime, but there would be no limit about the requests of data that include counterterrorism or counter-espionage.

Some organizations opposed the legislation and said they will not support it unless it requires a warrant for all queries of American data collected under Section 702.The legislation would codify the NSA’s decision to halt the collection of communications that merely mentioned a foreign intelligence target, but that would end in 6 years and the Agency will be able to resume the activity.

Earlier this year Republican senators wanted to renew Section 702 without changes and make it permanent. The White House and the intelligence agencies supported the law introduced by the Republicans, but the House will probably oppose this effort because there is a conservative block of Republicans who don’t want renewing if there are no major changes.

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