WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, raised concerns over a provision in the 2017 Intelligence Authorization Act that seeks a massive expansion of government surveillance into Americans’ email, and possibly their browser history and social media communications through the use of a National Security Letter. Senator Heinrich issued the following statement:
“This represents a massive expansion of government surveillance that lacks independent oversight and potentially gives the FBI access to Americans’ email and browser histories with little more than the approval of a manager in the field. The FBI’s ability to demand electronic communications transactional records would not just be limited to email service providers, but could also include any service provider through which a person communicates such as social media and other online services.
“There is no question that our Intelligence Community needs the ability to collect critical information to guard against real threats. Obtaining a FISA warrant is straightforward and based on there being a reasonable connection to terrorism or national security. Therefore, the FBI should have little trouble under the current process getting the information it needs to conduct its investigations. The FBI has not made a convincing case that it needs any process other than the one that already exists, especially one that freely allows the FBI access to law-abiding Americans’ emails and web activity.
“I will work with my colleagues to ultimately pass an Intelligence Authorization Act that bolsters programs that actually target and prevent terrorism, not threaten Americans’ privacy rights.”