WASHINGTON, D.C.--Today, Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) along with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY) introduced H.R. 2233 the End Warrantless Surveillance of Americans Act. The bill would prohibit warrantless searches of government databases for information that pertains to U.S. citizens. It would also forbid government agencies from mandating or requesting “back doors” into commercial products that can be used for surveillance. The legislation mirrors an amendment the three members offered to the USA Freedom Act, which was backed by a broad bipartisan coalition including Members of Congress and outside groups across the political spectrum.
“The USA Freedom Act that passed out of the Judiciary Committee last week is an improvement over current law and a step in the right direction. But we can do more to protect the Fourth Amendment. In addition to stopping bulk data collection, Congress should also act now to stop warrantless searches under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA),” said Rep. Poe. “Right now, under Section 702 the government is allowed to snoop and spy on the content of a citizen’s phone calls, texts and emails---all without a warrant. Failure to address this gaping loophole in FISA leaves the constitutional rights of millions of Americans vulnerable and unprotected. This bill also ensures that the federal government does not force companies to enable its spying activities. The NSA has and will continue to violate the constitutional protections guaranteed to every American unless Congress intervenes. Until we fix this and make the law clear, citizens can never be sure that their private conversations are safe from the eyes of the government.”
“If Congress truly wants to end bulk collections of U.S. persons data, then we must also look at the warrantless surveillance occurring under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Executive Order 12333,” said Rep. Lofgren. “Failing to do so all but ensures the nation’s spy agencies will continue to violate Americans’ privacy and the Fourth Amendment. I am pleased that Chairman Goodlatte has acknowledged that further reform is needed and committed the House Judiciary Committee to investigating this issue more closely in hearing, and I look forward to a productive conversation on how to finally end bulk collection and warrantless surveillance at that time.”
“Surveillance under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act is arguably worse than the collection of records allowed under Section 215 of the Patriot Act,” said Rep. Massie. “Our Founding Fathers fought and died to stop this kind of warrantless search and seizure. The End Warrantless Surveillance on Americans Act is an important step toward reasserting the constitutional rights of all Americans. I look forward to continue working on this issue with Congressman Poe and Congresswoman Lofgren.”