Lofgren Statement on Opposition to FISA Reauthorization Bill that Lacks Significant Reform

March 11, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), issued the below statement on her opposition to H.R. 6172, the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020, which renews Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) authorities, including Section 215 that has been misused to spy on Americans:

“It’s unfortunate that this bill does not include significant reforms that are necessary to protect Americans’ civil liberties.

“For example, most Americans know their web browsing history and search queries contain private, personal information, and yet this reauthorization allows the Intelligence Community to seize that sensitive data without a warrant. Additionally, the legislation in the House does not prevent Americans from being illegally surveilled for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. By leaving in place a vague ‘relevancy’ standard, the FBI has the authority to seize private information about Americans merely because they attended the same religious service or went to the same gun show as a target. In short, the Intelligence Community will continue to be held to different, more lenient standards than law enforcement officials when obtaining court-ordered warrants.

“I’ve been working for more than 15 years to secure real, significant reforms to Section 215 and FISA that protect Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights. While it’s disappointing the House has not come together today to protect the public’s civil liberties, the Senate still has a chance to make improvements and I will continue the fight to curb FISA abuses now and in the future.”

Prior Actions

Yesterday, March, 10, 2020, Lofgren and Warren Davidson (R-OH-8) – the lead House sponsors of the Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act, H.R. 5675, announced their support for two new bipartisan bills, S. 3420 and S. 3421, introduced by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VA) that provide two paths forward for NSA surveillance reform.

Lofgren and Davidson said, “We support the strong bipartisan reforms in Lee and Leahy’s reauthorization package that helps protect Americans’ privacy rights for the long haul, as well as other good-faith alternatives that represent an achievable way to allow reform conversations to continue in the short term that will protect Americans’ civil liberties.”

On February 27, 2020, following the postponement of the markup for H.R. ___, the “USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020,” in the House Judiciary Committee the day before, Reps. Lofgren and Davidson sent a letter to Chairman Jerrold Nadler urging him to schedule a markup of their bipartisan bill, H.R. 5675.

On January 24, 2020, Lofgren, Davidson and a coalition of bipartisan Representatives joined Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) in introducing bicameral surveillance reform legislation that:

  • closes loopholes and strengthens oversight to prevent government overreach and abuse;
  • permanently ends the indiscriminate collection of massive amounts of domestic communications;
  • prohibits warrantless collection of geolocation and web browsing data by intelligence agencies; and
  • ensures the Intelligence Community is held to the standards established under the Fourth Amendment.