While the rest of the world was otherwise occupied, the House voted 301-118 on Wednesday to extend FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act) another five years. At a glance, you can tell that the numbers 301-118 represent a bipartisan decision. Yes, the two parties that have made an art-form out of disagreeing, do agree that warrant-less wiretapping is a good thing for America. (Check here to see how your Representative voted.)
We can breath a sigh of relief that it is still illegal to target Americans on American soil. But if they miss their target and hit something else, it’s fair game.
According to MoJo:
The bill “allows the bulk suspicionless collection of communications coming into and out of the United States,” explains Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union. “While the proponents always point out we’re targeting the overseas end and those people don’t have Fourth Amendment rights, the Americans and other people in the US on the other end of that call, or email or Skype, do have Fourth Amendment rights.”
See, the law allows the government to collect communications between individuals abroad who are interacting with people in the United States. In other words, the government can get around Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights against search and seizure by “targeting” the communications of a foreigner who just happens to be communicating with someone in the United States. They’re not supposed to deliberately exploit the loophole to get around the Fourth Amendment, but once they use it to get information, they can keep it, even if they find out that they were spying on an American citizen after the fact.
I know, if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. You can trust them.