Protecting Montanans’ Privacy is Aim of New Tester Bill
Senator’s bipartisan Government Surveillance Reform Act would protect Montanans from warrantless searches of data by government and law enforcement
Continuing his longstanding efforts to protect Montanans’ freedom and privacy, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today introduced new, bipartisan legislation to better protect Americans from warrantless searches by the government and law enforcement agencies. Specifically, Tester’s Government Surveillance Reform Act would reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) with significant reforms to bolster Montanans’ privacy protections.
“Freedom and privacy are bedrock Montana values, and no DC bureaucrat or government agency should be able to access Montanans’ personal information without a warrant,” said Tester. “My bipartisan bill will slam shut dangerous loopholes to ensure that government can’t intrude on Montanans’ personal lives and help folks across the Treasure State rest easy knowing their Constitutional rights won’t be violated.”
Tester’s bipartisan Government Surveillance Reform Act would protect Montanans’ personal privacy rights by reauthorizing FISA Section 702 for four years with privacy reforms to protect Americans against warrantless searches of data. Section 702 allows the government to surveil and collect digital communications data on foreigners located abroad. However, the programs also sweeps up Americans’ data, and as a result, has allowed the FBI and other government agencies to conduct millions of backdoor searches on Americans and individuals in the U.S. without a warrant. Senator Tester’s bill would reform Section 702 by prohibiting warrantless searches of information related to U.S. persons, prohibiting reverse targeting of U.S. persons, and increase oversight of the program. The bill would also continue to protect national security by extending the use of Section 702 for foreign intelligence information gathering.
The legislation would also address broader privacy concerns, including:
- Bolstering civil liberties protections and increasing oversight for FISA court proceedings;
- Increasing protections against warrantless collection and searches of electronic information by law enforcement;
- Requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant for to search Americans geo-location information, web browsing and search inquires, and vehicle data, and
- Prohibiting the government from purchasing data about Americans from data brokers.
Tester is a consistent and staunch supporter of Montanans’ right to privacy. He has continually condemned the use of mass and warrantless government surveillance, and is one of only a handful of Senators that voted against reauthorizing Section 702 FISA when it previously came before the Senate in 2017. Tester also previously voted against efforts to extend FISA provisions and the government’s ability to spy on law-abiding Americans in 2008, 2012, and 2020. In August, Tester re-introduced his bipartisan Fourth Amendment is Not For Sale Act, which he incorporated into this new bill.
Tester’s new bipartisan bill is supported by a diverse coalition of advocates including the ACLU, Brennan Center, Center for Democracy & Technology, Demand Progress, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.