Senate passes bill expanding protections of FISA warrant targets

The Senate on Wednesday passed an amendment by Sen. Patrick Leahy providing additional protections to targets of FISA court warrants but failed to pass a measure preventing searches of internet history without a warrant. File Photo by Pete Marovich/UPI

May 14 (UPI) — The Senate on Wednesday passed an amendment providing increased protections for targets of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants but failed to approve new restrictions on the federal government’s ability to search Internet history.

An amendment by Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., adding protections for the targets of surveillance warrants in FISA court passed by a vote of 79-11, while an amendment by Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., that would prevent searches of browser and search history without a warrant fell short of the 60-vote threshold to pass with a vote of 59-37.

The Senate is set Thursday to vote on a third amendment from Sen Rand Paul, R-Ky., that would require a warrant for U.S. citizens to be searched under FISA as part of a bill to reauthorize FISA surveillance authorities that lapsed in March.

Leahy on Wednesday praised the passage of his amendment which would make outside reviews of warrants on U.S. citizens be conducted in FISA court.

“BIG win tonight for the protection of Americans’ privacy and civil liberties!” Leahy wrote on Twitter.

The passage of the amendment, however, will send the legislation back to the House, which must pass the measure again before sending it to President Donald Trump for approval.

Wyden said he believes the bill protecting Internet search history from FISA surveillance failed to pass because “there were some people absent.”

Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Ben Sasse, R-Neb.; and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. were not present for the vote.


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