Eighteen months after the Snowden revelations, Congress has failed to enact surveillance reform. With the improved USA FREEDOM Act not reaching cloture in the Senate and the Amash amendment falling short in the House, many Americans were grasping onto the Massie-Lofgren appropriations amendment passed in June as the last opportunity to see real Congressional action. Unfortunately, a recent effort by House leadership will undo that vestige of reform.

Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act authorizes the NSA to collect emails, chats, and browsing history without a warrant if that information is collected while the agency is targeting communications where one of the parties is believed to be overseas. This incidental search is colloquially referred to as “backdoor searches” and is seen by many as a serious breach of privacy.

In an effort to end this government overreach, a bipartisan coalition led by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) ushered through the House of Representatives an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that would block funding to the NSA for these so-called “backdoor” warrantless searches. This amendment passed with overwhelming bipartisan support: 293 ayes, 123 noes, and 1 present.

However in the latest deal to fund the government, known around the Hill as the “CRomnibus,” House leaders have stripped out the Massie-Lofgren amendment. This action is extremely disappointing to many Americans who were hoping to see Congressional commitment to surveillance reform.

R Street has joined with 30 other privacy and tech advocacy groups voicing their displeasure with this political maneuver. Signing a coalition letter urging the House to restore the privacy of Americans by retaining the Massie-Lofgren amendment. See the full letter.

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