With the Senate set to cast its first votes on a bill that reauthorizes and expands the government’s already vast warrantless spying program in a matter of hours, civil libertarians on Tuesday launched a last-ditch effort to rally opposition to the legislation and demand that lawmakers protect Americans’ constitutional right to privacy.
“In the age of federal misconduct, every member of Congress must move right now to stop the government’s abuse of the internet to monitor everyone.”
—Fight for the Future
Fight for the Future (FTF), one of many advocacy groups pressuring lawmakers to stop the mass surveillance bill in its tracks, notes that “just 41 senators can stop” the bill from passing.
“In the age of federal misconduct, every member of Congress must move right now to stop the government’s abuse of the internet to monitor everyone; they must safeguard our freedom and the U.S. Constitution,” FTF urged.
The FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (S.139)—passed by the House last week with the revealing but not surprising help of 65 Democrats—would renew Section 702 of FISA, set to expire this Friday.
As The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald notes, “numerous Senate Democrats are poised” to join their House colleagues in voting to re-up Section 702, thus violating “the privacy rights of everyone in the United States” and handing President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions sprawling spying powers.
The Senate’s first procedural vote on a cloture motion is expected at 5:30pm ET. If the motion is approved, the path will be clear for the bill to hit the Senate floor.
“Every member of Congress is going to have to decide whether to protect Americans’ privacy, and shield vulnerable communities from unconstitutional targeting, or to leave unconstitutional spying authority in Trump’s—and Jeff Sessions’—hands,” the advocacy group Indivisible notes.
Famed whistleblower Edward Snowden joined advocacy groups in calling on the American public to pressure their representatives to vote down “a bill granting the White House greater authority spy on immigrants, journalists, dissidents, and you.”
“If you care for the Constitution, you have only hours left to call and stop this,” Snowden concluded.
On its website dedicated to the effort to stop the warrantless spying bill, FTF argues that lawmakers who vote against the privacy rights of Americans “don’t deserve to be in the Senate” and threatens to target pro-warrantless spying senators in upcoming elections—by, among other methods, erecting billboards highlighting the senator’s record on privacy in key districts.
FTF goes on to outline some crucial steps the public can take to place pressure on their representatives ahead of Tuesday’s vote:
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