Why We Should All Care About Today’s Senate Vote on the FISA Amendments Act, the Warrantless Domestic Spying Bill
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Today is an incredibly important vote for the future of your digital privacy, but some in Congress are hoping you won’t find out.
Finally, after weeks of delay, the Senate will start debate on the dangerous FISA Amendments Act at 10 am Eastern and vote on its re-authorization by the end of the day. The FISA Amendments Act is the broad domestic spying bill passed in 2008 in the wake of the warrantless wiretapping scandal. It expires at the end of the year and some in Congress wanted to re-authorize it without a minute of debate.
The good news is—thanks for your phone calls, emails, and tweets—Congress will now be forced to debate it, which means, we can affect its outcome. In case you forget just how dangerous the FISA Amendments Act is to your privacy, here’s how we described it last week:
The FISA Amendments Act continues to be controversial; key portions of it were challenged in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court this term. In brief, the law allows the government to get secret FISA court orders—orders that do not require probable cause like regular warrants—for any emails or phone calls going to and from overseas. The communications only have to deal with “foreign intelligence information,” a broad term that can mean virtually anything. And one secret FISA order can be issued against groups or categories of people—potentially affecting hundreds of thousands of Americans at once.
Any Senator who wants to stay true to the Constitution should vote no on its re-authorization, but in the alternative, there are four common sense amendments up for debate tomorrow that would go a long-way in curbing the law’s worst abuses.