New Legislation Aims to Reform Aspects of Section 702

A group of U.S. lawmakers announced a bill that intends to add more privacy protection against the National Security Agency’s (NSA) warrantless internet surveillance program.
microchip with NSA logo
Illustration of a microchip with a National Security Agency (NSA) logo on a circuit board.

A group of U.S. lawmakers recently announced a bill that intends to add more privacy protection against the National Security Agency’s (NSA) warrantless internet surveillance program.

Long-debated talks about the balance of security and privacy might be revived after the legislation’s formal introduction this Thursday, bringing back concerns about the U.S. government’s possible eagerness to spy on its own people.

The bill, written by the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, aims to reform the law, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, before it expires on December 31 this year. It partially restricts the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) access to the data collected under Section 702, requiring the agency to present a warrant when seeking evidence of a crime.

The NSA’s program collects vast amounts of digital communication as well as allows the authorities to eavesdrop on communications from international suspects living outside the U.S.

The agency’s former contractor, Edward Snowden, exposed classified information about the program last 2013. The details showed that the program is also able to scoop up communication of Americans, including possible communications to a target living overseas, subjecting them to searches by the FBI without needing a warrant.

U.S. senior intelligence officials view the program as something vital for stopping the threats to national security and their allies.

Though a bipartisan group is working on the bill to fix facets of Section 702, many Republicans, supported by the White House, wants to “renew the law without changes and make it permanent.”

Russia-linked Ads on Social Media Platforms

social media apps in phone
Social Media applications shown in phone.

Hackers backed by the Russian government were able to obtain classified cyber information from NSA last 2015 after a contractor put those files in his home computer.

The classified information obtained was allegedly used to influence the U.S. citizens during the previous presidential election, putting up ads on social media sites that will sway the public towards Trump’s side.

According to multiple sources, demographics of Michigan and Wisconsin were targeted specifically by the Russian-fake ads published on Facebook.

The social media giant’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said he regrets regarding the allegations as “crazy” when it was formerly noted that the fake news in his platform swayed the election.

No immediate response was prepared by either Facebook or Google, but a report made with the help of a person close to Facebook said that the social media site will not be publishing any of the 3,000 ads linked to the identified Russian entities they submitted to Congress. A statement made by the Twitter’s spokesperson didn’t answer whether any of the ads will be shown in their platform.

Facebook confirmed that they accept the invitation from the House Intelligence Committee to testify at the public hearing on November 01. Google and Twitter are yet to respond to the committee invite.

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