January 18, 2018

Harris Statement on Passage of FISA Reauthorization

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris released the following statement today following the passage of the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act:

“Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is among the most important tools available to our dedicated professionals in the Intelligence Community—but it raises significant privacy consequences for Americans.

“The federal government has a responsibility to safeguard national security while protecting civil liberties. That mandate is especially critical in this era of rapidly evolving technology, when an unprecedented amount of information about the private lives of Americans is stored on our devices and in the cloud.

“In light of these concerns, last month I authored a letter with colleagues from both sides of the aisle, urging an open debate and amendment process for reauthorizing Section 702. Senator Feinstein and I likewise offered and vigorously advocated for a bipartisan amendment that would address the most significant shortcoming of this bill—the lack of a warrant requirement when the government searches for Americans’ communications. As a career prosecutor, I have applied for search warrants. They are inconvenient. But that is the point—to make sure that, before the government accesses an American's private information, it observes the checks and balances that are fundamentals of our democracy. This is foundational to our Constitution.

“I am also disturbed by the lack of any meaningful debate or open amendment process consideration before we voted on this critical legislation. Last month I authored a letter with colleagues from both sides of the aisle, urging an open debate and amendment process for reauthorizing Section 702. That did not happen. At a time of exceptional concern about privacy and government authority, rushing this vote was the height of congressional irresponsibility. And while I strongly believe in empowering our Intelligence Community with the tools to keep our country safe, I could not support a bill that neglected to adequately protect the privacy rights of the American people.

“I will continue to work with my colleagues to pass legislation that bolsters our national security while protecting our liberty.”

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