Warrantless US Spying Is Set to Expire Soon. Let It Die

 | Ken Montenegro and Steven Renderos 08/08/2017 10:08 AM MDT
Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Surveillance technologies have historically restricted the freedoms of communities of color and immigrants in this country. This history continues today through a resurgent national security apparatus with emboldened nationalist tendencies. Members of Congress have the power to rein these surveillance mechanisms. At this moment, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is pending reauthorization from Congress. This piece of legislation must be reformed in order to prevent dragnet surveillance, backdoor searches of phone and email records, and unlawful targeting of communities of color and immigrant communities. Unless these revisions are made, Congress should let the provision expire.

Section 702 allows for warrantless surveillance of conversations between people in the US and in foreign countries. The law passed in 2008 during the George W. Bush's presidency, was extended by the Obama administration, and is now set to expire at the end of 2017, unless Congress reauthorizes the provision—a move the Trump administration supports.

Rebuttals to questions of surveillance often go something like this: 'If you’ve got nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t be worried.' But a review of American history points to the same groups being routinely spied on by the government: black and native bodies, immigrants, poor communities, and anybody deemed as an “other” or a threat to national security. High-profile cases of surveilled prominent figures include civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez, who were both monitored by the FBI.

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