October 24, 2017

Udall, Heinrich Cosponsor USA RIGHTS Act To Reform Secretive Warrantless Spy Program

Bill Reforms FISA Sec. 702 to Protect Americans' Security AND Liberties, Reduce Secret Law and Focus Spy Program on Foreign Threats

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 24, 2017) - U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced bipartisan legislation they are cosponsoring that reforms a sweeping, secretive government spying program to protect the constitutional rights of Americans, while giving intelligence agencies authority to target foreign terrorists, criminals, and other overseas intelligence targets.

The USA RIGHTS Act reforms Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to end warrantless backdoor searches of Americans' calls, emails, and other communications that are routinely swept up under a program designed to spy on foreign targets. The sweeping authority has been clouded in secrecy, in part because the government refuses to answer essential questions about how it impacts Americans, including how many American communications the government collects.

“We need to end the unwarranted and secretive government intrusion into the privacy of law-abiding American citizens,” said Udall. “The United States does not have to choose between upholding the fundamental privacy rights of Americans and keeping our nation secure. This bipartisan legislation gives law enforcement and intelligence agencies the tools they need to safeguard the American people from foreign threats, while also protecting the essential freedoms afforded by the Constitution.”

“The reforms in the USA RIGHTS Act are aimed at protecting both our security and liberty,” said Heinrich, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “Congress needs to preserve the ability to collect information that is actually necessary to guard against threats to our security, while also guarding the rights of innocent Americans to prevent the government from snooping into their lives, which the framers understood was vital to American liberties.”

The Uniting and Strengthening America by Reforming and Improving the Government’s High-Tech Surveillance (USA RIGHTS) Act was introduced today by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Ted Poe (R-Texas), and Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

Read a one-page summary of the bill here. A full summary of the bill is here. The full text of the bill is here.