U.S House Passed Surveillance Act

The US House of Representatives passed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), renewing the National Security Agency’s warrantless Internet surveillance program for six years, with minimal changes. The final vote, 256 to 164, focused on the expiring law, known as Section 702 of the FISA, that permits the Government to collect, without a warrant, communications from United States’ companies, such as Google and AT&T, of foreigners abroad, including when those targets are talking to U.S. citizens. Several privacy groups have warned that this would expand the NSA’s surveillance powers. Most lawmakers expect it to become law, although it still requires Senate’s approval and President’s signature. As media reports, before the voting took place, the House rejected an amendment that would have imposed a series of new safeguards. The proposal included a requirement for officials to obtain warrants before hunting for, and reading, emails and other private messages of Americans that were ‘swept up under the surveillance’. Advocates of these changes reminded of the preservation of the Fourth Amendment privacy rights in the Internet era. However, intelligence and law enforcement officials argued that it would limit security officials from gaining access to information the government already possessed.