FISA’s Warrantless Wiretapping Lives On
By: David Heacock
On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected an initiative by a group of attorneys, journalists, and advocates to limit the expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). While the court was not directly considering FISA’s constitutionality, it denied the ability for lawyers to file a lawsuit against FISA in federal court. This leaves the American people with one less avenue to protect their rights to privacy and unwarranted searches.
FISA is a law that legalizes federal wiretapping without a warrant. All emails and phone calls that are suspected of being linked to foreign terrorist groups are vulnerable to search by government workers. Because the government does not need to obtain a warrant from an independent federal court, the government can essentially intercept any data it desires while having no requirement to alert that their data has been wrongfully seized. This loose power has led to the creation of large databases of Americans’ communications and secret collection centers that have only been discovered via whistleblowers.
While FISA was at one time hotly debated in the public arena, it has been largely forgotten and accepted over time. Our current president was once a strong FISA opponent, but changed his position once taking office. The Supreme Court’s ruling continues the Catch-22 bind. You have to have proof of being monitored by the government to challenge FISA; however, the government doesn’t have any requirement to tell you if your data’s been collected. Ultimately, this issue must be resolved in Congress, and hopefully people will speak up when FISA is being reconsidered.