H.R. 3989

USA Liberty Act of 2017

Score:

2 out of 5

10/16/2017: Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations

This bill reauthorizes Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act as amended in 2008, which gives intelligence agencies the ability to monitor communications of foreign targets outside of the United States. The law is set to expire at the of 2017 if Congress does not act. This version of the reauthorization requires domestic law enforcement to acquire a warrant before searching the data. While there are still some issues, we believe this is likely to be the most compromised version of the bill that will be seriously considered. Two other bills have come from the Senate side. One that is a good bill, but not likely to much support, while another has been put out by the Intelligence panel that will simply authorize the bill as-is. Therefore we will only rate and score this version.

Link to Bill Text →

Pros

The bill will allow intelligence agencies to continue monitoring the activity of suspected international terrorists. One significant change, however, is that a warrant will now be required before previously acquired communications can be queried to obtain evidence of domestic crimes.

Cons

The bill does not apply the same standards and procedures to seize and search the content of electronic communications that apply to other electronic communications. 1. The application goes to the FISA court, not an Article III district court or magistrate; 2. The Attorney General does not have to provide the same level of detail that is usually required for a domestic “interception” warrant, and the FISA court does not have to make the same findings a district court of magistrate must find, nor is there an exclusion rule; 3. The “warrant” application and warrant itself do not have to comply with Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 41, meaning they don’t have to specify the basis for probable cause or state with particularity “the person or property to be searched, identify any person or property to be seized;" 4. The government isn’t required to provide any post-collection report to the court, and they do not have to report on what information was collected as a result of the query; 5. Bill includes several “exceptions” that allow for searching previously-seized communications through a query (both contents and non-content) without a warrant and with no review or protection. This bill does not comply with the 4th Amendment and grants too much power to look at metadata for almost any reason. It will allow domestic law enforcement to use data seized for counterintelligence purposes to be used against Americans without notice.

Tags:
  • Mass Surveillance