Senate Renews NSA Warrantless Surveillance Bill

Final Bill Offered No Serious Reforms for Program

FISA’s Section 702, which the NSA has been using for warrantless surveillance of Americans’ Internet communication, has been renewed, with a 65-34 vote in the Senate Thursday following up a similar passage in the House last week, and moving it to the White House for President Trump to sign, likely Friday.

The controversial surveillance scheme was passed almost entirely as it was previously written, with no serious reforms making it into the final bill. One minor provision requiring warrants related to ongoing crimes was added, though for Americans not involved in crime, warrantless surveillance will remain the norm.

Technically speaking, the NSA isn’t considered to be eavesdropping directly on Americans, but rather eavesdropping on the entire planet, and then, having incidentally captured the communication of Americans, is allowed to rummage through them without a warrant.

Congressional leadership largely shrugged off calls for reform on the grounds of national security, and complaints about the system being built to abuse were largely forgotten in efforts to renew it before the previous version expired.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.