The ACLU said Congress should compel the government to obtain warrants to conduct surveillance.
The ACLU said Congress should compel the government to obtain warrants to conduct surveillance.

The text of a House bill that would reauthorize Section 702 released Friday immediately drew opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The bill would let federal agencies, including the FBI, the broad authority to sift without a warrant through data gather under Section 702 for information about Americans, prior to opening an active investigation.

“We strongly oppose this legislation,” Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU legislative counsel, said in a statement. “This bill is not reform by any stretch of the imagination. It leaves the door wide open to abusive surveillance practices that allow the government to search the intimate emails, text messages, and other sensitive data of Americans without a warrant of any kind.”

The language of the bill could be construed as expanding illegal government practices like gathering communications not generated by or sent to a surveillance target.

As a result, Section 702 could “be used as a tool to improperly target minorities, government critics, and marginalized communities,” Singh Giuliani explained.

Calling on Congress to “abandon efforts to pass this legislation and reject the false assertion that this type of illegal surveillance power is needed to protect national security.“ Instead, she said, the government should be required “to get a warrant when searching through Section 702 data looking for information of American citizens and residents.”