Where Does Your Congressmember Stand On Surveillance Reform?

RT4 Relaunches “Decide The Future” Congressional Scorecard on Surveillance and the 4th Amendment

The US government’s mass surveillance programs pose an existential threat to our freedoms. Congress has the ability to rein them in, but only a minority of our legislators are willing to act.

Back in 2015, we and Fight for the Future developed a surveillance scorecard for Congressmembers. Newly relaunched and updated, “Decide The Future” allows you to see which Senators and Representatives are actually voting to reduce surveillance.

The scorecard showcases some important lessons:

  • Party affiliation is not a clear guide to how your legislator stands on surveillance reform. 25 Democratic lawmakers get F grades; 24 Republican lawmakers get A+ grades.
  • If you’re in leadership in either party, it’s more likely that you will oppose reform.
  • If you are serving or have served on the Intelligence Committee, the Homeland Security Committee or the Armed Services Committee, it’s more likely that you will oppose reform, perhaps because of exposure to sustained and selective briefings from the intelligence community.

The scorecard allows you to tweet to your Congressmember about their record. Please do so, and let us know here if you have feedback on the scorecard.

Section 702 Legislative Analysis

Congress faces a deadline of December 31, when the main authority for NSA’s mass surveillance programs, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, expires. This provision retroactively legalized President Bush’s illegal mass surveillance, with few limitations. Three bills have been introduced to renew and reform this authority in varying degrees.
  1. The Senate Intelligence Committee leadership’s “FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act” would renew Section 702 for eight years, explicitly codifies the use of intelligence data for domestic surveillance and to investigate domestic crimes unrelated to terrorism, and is being debated in secret.
    • RECOMMENDATION: KILL IT WITH FIRE
  2. The House Judiciary Committee leadership’s “USA Liberty Act” would improve the administration of the FISA Court but would renew Section 702 for 5.5 years without fixing the FBI backdoor searches problem, where the FBI uses searches of NSA data to get around the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement.
    • RECOMMENDATION: ALSO KILL WITH FIRE
  3. Now we come to the only realistic proposal on the table that would actually go a long way to fix the problems with Section 702 surveillance: Sen. Wyden’s and Sen. Paul’s just-introduced “USA RIGHTS Act.” It has also been introduced in the House by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX).