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“Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act” is Designed to Do Nothing

A one-page document compiled by the Brennan Center illustrating how the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, unless significantly amended, will do nothing to prevent continuing abuses of Section 702.

Last Updated: April 11, 2024
Published: April 9, 2024

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is scheduled to expire on April 19 unless renewed, is a warrantless surveillance authority that is supposed to be targeted at non-Americans located abroad. But this collection “inevitably” captures Americans’ communications, too. Intelligence agencies have turned Section 702 into a domestic spying tool, using it to perform hundreds of thousands of warrantless “backdoor” searches for Americans’ private phone calls, e-mails, and text messages every year. These searches have included shocking abuses, including baseless searches for the communications of 141 Black Lives Matter protesters, members of Congress, 19,000 donors to a congressional campaign, a local political party, and tens of thousands of people involved in “civil unrest.” Lawmakers from both parties have thus vowed not to reauthorize the law without “significant reforms.”

The “Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act,” however, is a “reform” bill in name only. Modeled closely on the House Intelligence Committee’s bill—and bypassing the critical reforms included in the House Judiciary’s Committee’s Protect Liberty and End Warrantless Surveillance Act—it is carefully crafted to preserve the status quo. The one-pager below details how, unless significantly amended to add meaningful protections for Americans’ privacy, the “Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act” will do nothing to prevent continuing abuses of Section 702.

BCJ One-pager on RISAA (1) by The Brennan Center for Justice on Scribd