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At Deadline, Biden Signs Extension Of Controversial Surveillance Law

President Biden signed legislation reauthorizing a key surveillance law after divisions over whether the FBI should be restricted from using the program to search for Americans’ data nearly forced the statute to lapse , the Associated Press reports. Barely missing its Saturday midnight deadline, the Senate approved the bill by a 60-34 vote hours earlier with bipartisan support, extending for two years the program known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). “In the nick of time, we are reauthorizing FISA right before it expires at midnight,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “All day long, we persisted and we persisted in trying to reach a breakthrough and in the end, we have succeeded.”

U.S. officials have said the surveillance tool, first authorized in 2008 and renewed several times since, is crucial in disrupting terrorist attacks, cyber intrusions, and foreign espionage and has produced intelligence that the U.S. has relied on for specific operations, such as the 2022 killing of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri. "If you miss a key piece of intelligence, you may miss some event overseas or put troops in harm’s way,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said. “You may miss a plot to harm the country here, domestically, or somewhere else. So in this particular case, there’s real-life implications.” The new law will renew the program, which permits the U.S. government to collect without a warrant the communications of non-Americans located outside the country to gather foreign intelligence. The reauthorization faced a long and bumpy road to final passage after months of clashes between privacy advocates and national security hawks pushed consideration of the legislation to the brink of expiration.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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