Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oreg.) have introduced a bill that would severely limit the United States’ intelligence community’s ability to spy on American citizens and foreign allies.
A portion of current spying law opposed by Paul and Wyden is set to expire on December 31st if it does not receive Congressional renewal.
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows the United States government to intercept and store digital communications from foreign subjects. The act also allows the government to eavesdrop on American citizens and their communications with foreign citizens without a warrant.
Classified details about the surveillance program were exposed by American whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013.
“Congress must not continue to allow our constitutional standard of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ to be twisted into ‘If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear,’” Paul said. “The American people deserve better from their own government than to have their Internet activity swept up in warrantless, unlimited searches that ignore the Fourth Amendment.”
The USA Rights Act, authored by the two Senators, would end this practice. Both the American Civil Liberties Union and FreedomWorks support the bill, and companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
The bill would renew Section 702 for four years, implementing transparency and oversight provisions that would allow individuals to bring “challenges against the law” more easily while expanding the oversight jurisdiction of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
Wyden sent a letter on Monday encouraging the Senate to have an open debate on renewing the act, arguing that the bill “will have enormous impact on the security, liberty, and constitutional rights of the American people.”
Paul has also been consistent in opposing illegal spying, conducting a 10-hour filibuster over NSA spying programs in 2015.
“Anytime you give power to government, they love it, and they will accumulate more,” Paul said in 2015. “They will not live within the confines of power unless you watch them. Like a hawk, you’ve got to watch them.