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The House Passed a Bill to Renew a Controversial Foreign Surveillance Tool

January 11, 2018

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to maintain the National Security Agency’s warrantless Internet surveillance program.

What happened: Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows the NSA to collect electronic communications of “non-U.S. persons” who are “reasonably believed” to be outside the country, is due to expire next week. The House voted to approve its renewal for six years.

But: Senate approval and a Trump signature are both required before the deadline for it to remain law.

The case for: Reuters says that the White House and intelligence agencies consider the tool “indispensable” for surveillance.

The case against: Privacy advocates argue that when the NSA spies on foreigners it believes to be overseas, it also gathers information about Americans (see “Scrutiny Intensifies on the Warrantless Collection of Americans’ Communications”). An amendment to address that problem failed to pass in the House.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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