U.S. Senate Votes to Reauthorize, Expand, FISA Surveillance Powers nbcnews.com

Frank Thorp V, Sahil Kapur and Ryan Nobles, NBC News:

The Senate voted to reauthorize a powerful surveillance tool the U.S. government describes as critical to combating terrorism, after defeating efforts by civil liberties advocates on the left and right to rein it in.

The vote of 60-34 sends the bill to President Joe Biden, who has championed it. The legislation extends Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, for two more years.

Contrary to the New York Times’ framing last year, the nay votes were hardly a picture of the “far-right”. Dissenters were almost a 50–50 split between Republicans and Democrats, with slightly more of the latter. Sadly, even with some long-overdue Republican support, the nay votes did not “imperil” this capability.

Marc Zwillinger, Steve Lane, and Jacob Sommer, of the ZwillGen law firm, on an amendment which will compel more providers to turn over records:

The new amendment is a marginal improvement over the last go-around, but it is still problematic. It is not a change that “narrowly updates the definition of electronic communication service provider under Section 702.” Like the FRRA, it: (1) drops the qualifier “communication” from the class of covered “service providers;” (2) makes access to communications-carrying equipment enough to establish eligibility; and (3) adds “custodian” to the list of individuals who can be forced to provide assistance. But unlike the FRRA, it then enumerates a list of business types that cannot be considered ECSPs, including public accommodations, dwellings, restaurants, and community facilities.

The White House is thrilled.

American readers, if you need cheering up, do note the House of Representatives passed the Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act.