March 15, 2017

Wyden: The Public Must Know How Many Americans Are Swept Up In Warrantless Surveillance Under FISA 702

Without Numbers, Americans and Congress Can’t Know The Impact to Liberty and Constitutional Protections of Backdoor Searches Under FISA

Washington, D.C. – Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., took to the Senate floor today to call for the executive branch to finally reveal how many Americans have their phone calls, emails and other communications swept up – without warrants – under a surveillance program intended to target people overseas.

Wyden has spent six years seeking how many law-abiding Americans have their calls and messages swept up under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The program expires at the end of this year, but Sen. Dan Coats, nominee to serve as Director of National Intelligence, called renewing Section 702 his top legislative priority this year.

Congress and the American people deserve a fully informed debate about this reauthorization.  And we can’t have that debate unless we know the impact of Section 702 on the privacy and constitutional rights of Americans.  So the key question is, and has always been: how many law-abiding Americans are having their communications swept in all that collection?  Without even an estimate of that number, there is no way to judge what Section 702 means for the civil liberties of Americans,” Wyden said.

Read Wyden’s full remarks and watch a video of his remarks here.

Wyden is a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who has pressed intelligence leaders for years to reveal how many Americans are caught up under a surveillance program aimed at targets overseas.  Wyden and former Sen. Mark Udall originally asked for this number in 2011. He renewed his request in 2012, and pushed the executive branch to reveal in 2014 that the NSA, CIA and FBI search for Americans’ communications without obtaining a warrant.