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US Bill Seeks to Reauthorize Foreign Surveillance, Tighten Privacy Protections

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US Senators have introduced legislation to reauthorize the process for collecting foreigners’ communications abroad and improving privacy protections for US citizens.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US Senators Patrick Leahy and Mike Lee said in a press release they have introduced legislation on Friday to reauthorize the process for collecting foreigners’ communications abroad and also improving privacy protections for US citizens.

"Section 702 [of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act] allows the government to collect sweeping amounts of Internet and other communications, including content and meta data, by targeting communications of foreigners abroad," the release said on Friday.

The senators explained that the Uniting and Strengthening American Liberty Act of 2017 they introduced "would apply stricter limits on the government’s ability to search Section 702 collection for communications of Americans and persons inside the United States, to ensure this surveillance is consistent with the Fourth Amendment."

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The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution is the basis of the law regarding search warrants, stop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance. The smendment itself states, in part, that "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated."

Leahy and Lee said that Americans’ communications are typically swept up by US intelligence gathering agencies without a warrant or even a court order, and their legislation would address such practices.

"Americans have never been more concerned about the security and privacy of their online communications than they are today," Lee said. "This bill implements some much needed reforms to our surveillance laws that will better protect law-abiding Americans' privacy in a manner consistent with the 4th Amendment."

Leahy is a Democrat from the US state of Vermont and Lee is a Republican from the state of Utah.

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