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Hirono Statement on FISA 702 Reauthorization Vote

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today released the following statement after voting against passage of the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act (RISAA), legislation to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA):

“FISA 702, like all surveillance programs, must be reviewed, debated, and reauthorized on a regular basis in an effort to ensure it balances legitimate national security needs with the constitutional rights of the American people. The bill we voted on today failed to strike that balance. While I support the underlying foreign intelligence program authorized in 702, this legislation fails to sufficiently protect Americans’ civil liberties, which is why I could not support the bill.”

Section 702 of FISA establishes the procedures that allow the U.S. government to conduct surveillance on non-U.S. persons who are in foreign countries. However, pursuant to this authority, the government collects massive amounts of data, including communications of American citizens and those in the U.S.

The FBI then queries this information without any court involvement, violating the spirit—and perhaps the letter—of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure. In fact, the only appellate court to address this issue directly in an adversarial proceeding concluded that “querying that stored data does have important Fourth Amendment implications.” United States v. Hasbajrami, 945 F.3d 641, 670 (2d Cir. 2019).

Despite calls for reform of these data collection procedures by a broad coalition of civil liberties advocates, RISAA renews 702 authorities for two years and actually expands the scope of who and what will be queried, only heightening the civil liberties concerns.

Senator Hirono is a cosponsor of both S. 3234, the bipartisan Government Surveillance Reform Act, and S. 3961, the bipartisan SAFE Act. Both bills would reauthorize FISA 702 programs while reforming them by preventing certain controversial information collection practices and requiring court involvement before Americans’ communications are queried by law enforcement. Both bipartisan bills have been endorsed by civil liberties advocates such as Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Brennan Center for Justice.