Surveillance technologies have historically restricted the freedoms of communities of color and immigrants in this country. This history continues today through a resurgent national security apparatus with emboldened nationalist tendencies. Members of Congress have the power to rein these surveillance mechanisms. At this moment, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is pending reauthorization from Congress. This piece of legislation must be reformed in order to prevent dragnet surveillance, backdoor searches of phone and email records, and unlawful targeting of communities of color and immigrant communities. Unless these revisions are made, Congress should let the provision expire.
Last month, the Center for Media Justice joined over two dozen civil rights and civil liberties groups including the ACLU and Color of Change to send a letter to the House Judiciary Committee recommending reforms to the provision. History shows that intelligence programs without adequate oversight, demonstrated by COINTELPRO and the contents of the Edward Snowden revelations, inevitably overstep their mandates.
Congress should recall the origins of the fourth amendment in this moment: Let’s stop putting mass surveillance technologies in the hands of intelligence agencies, especially with nothing but the misplaced hope they will do the right thing.