Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are planning to introduce major reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which will forbid the FBI and other government agencies from surveilling the phone records of American civilians without a warrant.
As Just The News reports, the reforms will be introduced by the end of the year, around the same time that several powers granted by the Patriot Act are set to expire. Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has said that the reforms have surprisingly bipartisan support.
“We’ve got, I think, strong agreement amongst members of the Intel Committee and members of the Judiciary Committee,” said Jordan on Friday. “And frankly some Democrats as well, that there needs to be stronger penalties if you abuse the system.”
Jordan said his focus is on Section 702, where the government “can create this database” of phone records without the use of a court-approved warrant. This system came under greater scrutiny following the government’s illegal surveillance of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign for the presidency.
Earlier this year, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) declassified a report revealing that the FBI had conducted over 270,000 inappropriate searches of Americans’ phone records over the course of a two-year period.
“There needs to be more transparency, more accountability, more audits and reporting to Congress and to the American people,” Jordan continued. “So I think we have broad agreement there that those kind of fundamental changes have to happen.”
Congressman Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) confirmed the bipartisan support for these reforms, saying that “we’ve been working in a task force with the Intel Committee guys.”
“I think we’ve reached a lot of harmony on a lot of ideas,” Biggs added. “The last issue probably is just how we solve some of these issues where the FBI, NSA, CIA…want to go in and look at phone records and other private data points.”