If you thought that the current administration would be any better than the last on issues like electronic privacy and mass surveillance, you were sorely wrong. The Trump administration announced it wants the “clean reauthorization” of parts of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, which permit some of the nations most intrusive and controversial mass surveillance programs.
One of the sections set to expire, Section 702, contains two of the mass surveillance programs exposed by Edward Snowden. These programs include the infamous PRISM program which allows the NSA to access information from private providers like Facebook and Google without warrant. The other program is called Upstream which allowed the federal government to collect raw data directly off the nation’s internet cables and information infrastructure.
The Trump administration’s support of warrantless mass surveillance of American citizens should come as no surprise considering past statements Trump has made about “erring on the side of security” when it comes to the NSA’s domestic surveillance. This creates a false dichotomy though. America can continue to be secure and gather important intelligence with proper insight and safeguards in place.
Reforms to the law have been proposed from both sides of the aisle from legislators like Rand Paul and others. Rather than having a “clean reauthorization” of the act, processes could be put into place to further protect the privacy of Americans and improve oversight. Oversight could aide in answering questions that remain like how many Americans the NSA actually spies on with its programs.
Time will tell if members of the Republican controlled legislator will simply go along with the reauthorization of the act or put up a fight as in times past on the issue of NSA surveillance. Despite the outcry of legislators and the public alike, little has changed in regards to the laws and programs which facilitate the domestic spying.