In the next few weeks, Congress is set to act on renewal of the warrantless surveillance authority contained in Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act. A “backdoor search” provision, which allows the government to target Americans by searching for and reading their communications collected under that warrantless authority, has been the focus of the debate.
But this debate has been surprisingly silent about the most pressing concern raised by this provision, and that is the real possibility that renewing the authority to conduct these warrantless searches will provide the government a powerful tool for political spying on Americans. There is a puzzling disconnect between this limited congressional engagement about the effect of back door searches and the extensive public worries about government powers being used against its political opponents.
The above excerpt was originally published in The Hill.
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