GOP Measure to Overhaul Data Privacy Will Get Second Vote

( – The House is trying to renew a controversial section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), but many Republicans are worried about a creeping expansion of government power. The renewal was held up after a GOP amendment was rejected because it was allegedly unrelated to the bill. Now that amendment will get its own vote.

In February, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) delayed a vote on the FISA Section 702 renewal bill after Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee threatened to wreck it with a procedural motion. The problem was with an amendment put forward by Representative Warren Davidson (R-OH), which would force the federal government to get a warrant before it buys personal data on US citizens from tech companies. Committee members argued it wasn’t relevant to the compromise bill legislators had hammered out and risked it failing to pass.

On April 9, House Majority leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) said Davidson’s amendment will now go in front of the House as a separate bill, the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act. Scalise says the goal is to get the original FISA bill moved on to the Senate.

Davidson, however, says the House Republican leadership is endangering Americans’ civil liberties. There’s a very high chance that, if his amendment goes to the Senate as a standalone bill, it will die there. That will mean the federal government can keep buying personal data from liberal tech giants, making an end-run around laws that restrict it from spying on its own citizens.

Davidson says FISA is a backdoor into Americans’ privacy. The law allows federal agents to monitor the communications of some foreign nationals outside the US, without requiring a warrant — even if they’re talking to an American citizen inside the US. The official target is the foreigner, but the American is effectively under surveillance too. Davidson wants to end that. The government, and apparently senior House Republicans, don’t seem to agree.

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