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Dianne Feinstein calls for changes before Congress renews foreign intel snooping law

A previous chairman of the Senate intelligence committee said Friday that the government’s key foreign source snooping law needs some changes before Congress renews it this year — and insisted the law be kept temporary, rather than be made permanent.

Under current law Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act expires at the end of this year, after being renewed in 2012. The Trump administration and top Republicans have called for Section 702 to be renewed as-is, and to be made permanent, so the intelligence agencies don’t have to worry about renewal.

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, an influential Californian who has served as the head of the intelligence committee and is now ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said the only way to ensure Congress does good supervision of the snooping law is to keep the “sunset” provision intact.

She also said other changes should be made, including codifying a prohibition on collecting Internet traffic that is “about” a target, but not directly sent or received by the target. The secret court that oversees FISA ordered changes in recent months after the National Security Agency acknowledged problems, but Mrs. Feinstein says the NSA’s alterations should be written into law.

Section 702 allows federal intelligence agencies to scoop up the communications of foreigners outside the U.S. It does not allow Americans to be the target of the snooping, but if foreigners who are targeted are communicating with Americans, those exchanges can be tracked, in what’s dubbed “incidental collection.”

Mrs. Feinstein said she wants to see the secret court appoint an outside lawyer as a check to argue for liberty interests each time the government seeks approval to collect information under Section 702.

“Section 702 has been a valuable part of our counterterrorism efforts and I support its continuation, but I believe a sunset provision and key reforms should be considered.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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