FISA Gets Scrutinizing Look In Congress

Congress is moving to close a loophole that’s allowed FBI agents to search Americans’ phone records without a warrant more than 270,000 times. The bipartisan effort aims to revise the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to better protect privacy the privacy of American citizens and to create better oversight of a system notorious for abuse.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is spearheading the initiative to update the 1978 legislation that outlines governmental surveillance protocols. After 9/11, the act was modified to ease the sharing of information among law enforcement agencies.

“There needs to be more transparency, more accountability, more audits and reporting to Congress and to the American people,” Jordan expressed on “Just the News, No Noise.” He believes broad consensus exists for these fundamental changes.

Jordan further advocates for mandatory warrants in government surveillance targeting U.S. citizens and is focused on adjusting FISA’s Section 702 accordingly. This move seeks to restrict unwarranted access to the database housing private communications.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) has also been collaborating with colleagues across the aisle to reform FISA. This is part of a greater initiative that includes overhauling the PATRIOT Act, with hopes of significant progress by year’s end.

“I think we’ve reached a lot of harmony on a lot of ideas,” Biggs shared. The remaining challenge lies in how to address intelligence agencies’ desires to review private records without infringing on civil liberties.

The Patriot Act, which originated due to the 9/11 attacks, was meant to expire in 2015 but continued until 2020 through extensions. Despite the expiration, the powers granted under it are still in play. Congress now faces the challenge of revising these regulations to prevent further unwarranted surveillance of Americans, as recent reports of FBI spying have revealed.