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NCAC is urging Congress to make significant changes to a law that gives the government the power to conduct broad surveillance of communications between foreign citizens and Americans.

NCAC joined the Center for Democracy & Technology and other human rights and civil liberties organizations in sending a letter to Congress, which is considering reauthorizing the law, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  Because Section 702 has a potentially chilling effect on privacy and free speech, it has to be reauthorized periodically.  It is set to expire at the end of the year.

Section 702, which was last reauthorized in 2012, allows the government to conduct surveillance of foreign citizens abroad who are suspected of terrorism or espionage without an individualized order from a judge.  However, there is evidence that government is abusing Section 702 to access the communications of American citizens in the United States. It has done so with a “collect everything” approach, accessing large amounts of private and sensitive information belonging to individuals who pose no threat to national security.

The letter to Congress asserts that the government has failed to comply with its obligations under the law, including providing notice to a criminal defendant if the information used by the prosecution was obtained under Section 702. It has also violated court-ordered privacy procedures intended to protect Americans’ information and used loopholes in these rules to keep information and later use it for purposes unrelated to the reason it was first collected.

Read the letter below; click here for a full screen view.