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House to clear major roadblock on data privacy amid showdown over federal surveillance powers

A sticking point in Congress’ fight over renewing a controversial surveillance tool appears to have been resolved days before the House of Representatives is expected to vote on the issue, but not everyone is happy with the decision. 

‘Freedom surrendered is rarely reclaimed. It looks like the plan has shifted to further infringe the right to privacy – under the guise of [FISA] reform. Shameful,’ Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, wrote on X.

Discussions over renewing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which expires on April 19, abruptly blew up in February when Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee walked away from a compromise bill they spent months putting together with the House Judiciary Committee.

Multiple sources close to the Intelligence panel told Fox News Digital at the time that the legislative text had been changed to potentially allow for the inclusion of an amendment led by Davidson that would have required the federal government to obtain a warrant before purchasing U.S. citizens’ data from big tech firms. Those sources argued that it was unrelated to Section 702’s intelligence gathering practices and could have sunk the bill.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., told Fox News Digital on Tuesday that Davidson’s measure, the Fourth Amendment Is Not For Sale Act, would instead be getting a separate vote on the House floor.

‘This time it’s going to be its own bill, separately to FISA,’ Scalise said. ‘So that one’s gonna go separately.’

‘We wanted to get this before the membership, before the expiration of FISA and get it over to the Senate,’ he added.

It is not immediately clear when that measure would get a vote, but its decoupling from the FISA renewal bill is likely to boost the latter legislation’s odds of passing in the Senate. At the same time, it is a blow to privacy hawks who were hoping to use the renewal process to put more distance between the federal government and Americans’ data.

In his X post Monday, Davidson suggested House GOP leadership was infringing on Americans’ civil liberties with the move. Fox News Digital reached out to his office for further comment.

James Czerniawski, a tech policy expert for the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, argued of the decision, ‘Taking the databroker loophole and separating it from the FISA all but ensures it dies in the Senate.’

The bill to renew FISA Section 702 is expected to get a vote on Thursday, according to an early schedule viewed by Fox News Digital.

FISA Section 702 allows the federal government to surveil foreign nationals overseas who are suspected of terrorism ties without a warrant, even if the person on the other end is an American. 

Multiple audits and prior reports have shown that the FBI has misused Section 702 in the past to search for data on Americans involved in Black Lives Matter protests and the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot, among other incidents.

However, defenders of the surveillance tool, including the intelligence community and its allies, said it is critical to prevent another 9/11-style terror attack.

Disagreements over warrant requirements have continued to drive a wedge between national security hawks and an unusual coalition of hardliners on the left and right who argue the federal government has abused its access to private citizens’ data.

Davidson’s bill is also backed by Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, as well as House Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS
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