Ruppersberger Issues Statement on Reauthorization of Section 702 of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger today issued the following statement after the House of Representatives voted to renew authorities to collect communications of foreign targets located overseas. The statutory authority for the program, known as Section 702, expires January 19.
“Today, I voted in favor of the bipartisan FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 because it makes critical reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), especially Section 702, that will protect both American lives – especially our troops abroad – and our civil liberties.
Section 702 is an important tool used to collect communications on foreign bad guys overseas. It can only be used to target non-Americans located outside our borders. It is not – and cannot – be used to intentionally target Americans, ever, either within the United States or abroad. Anyone claiming that Section 702 is broadly used to spy on American citizens simply does not understand the nature of this program, its limited scope, or how it is executed by the patriots that make up our intelligence and law enforcement communities.
The courts have affirmed this program’s current authorization and operation – including the procedure for when a warrant is required – are legal and consistent with the Fourth Amendment. Just this week, the Supreme Court of the United States confirmed this when it rejected a Fourth Amendment challenge to Section 702. Congress has voted several times with bipartisan majorities to reauthorize it.
While this program may already be one of the most heavily overseen programs we have, this bill includes several new privacy safeguards, including specific query procedures—separate from existing minimization procedures—that must be annually approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). It also, for example, ends the collection of communications “about” a target (again, never an American) as opposed to communications “to” and “from” a target until the government develops new procedures, gains FISC approval for them, and briefs Congress.
As former Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a current Defense and Homeland Security Appropriator and representative of the district home to NSA, I have always said – you can’t have security without privacy, and you can’t have privacy without security. I will continue to fight for proper balance between security and privacy when it comes to protecting Americans here at home.”