Tester Votes to Protect Montanans’ Privacy Rights, Stop Biden Administration from Warrantless Searches

Senator voted against reauthorizing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) because it lacked measures to protect Montanans’ privacy

As part of his longstanding efforts to protect Montanans’ personal privacy rights, U.S. Senator Jon Tester voted to stop the Biden Administration from accessing Americans’ personal information without a warrant by opposing the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“Freedom and privacy are bedrock Montana values that I will always fight to protect,” said Tester. “That’s why I voted today to stop the Biden Administration from intruding on Montanans’ personal lives through warrantless government searches. Our intelligence community must be able to effectively counter America’s foreign adversaries like China, but we should slam shut backdoor loopholes that allow the government to sweep up and search Montanans’ private communications in the process. My message to the Biden Administration is simple: get a warrant.”

Voting today on the Senate floor, Tester backed amendments that would have significantly improved the bill and protected personal privacy rights, including:

  • An amendment to require the FBI to obtain a warrant to see the results and contents of Americans’ communications in data collected under Section 702;
  • An amendment to remove language that expands what types of businesses can be forced to turn over information about communications to the government under Section 702;
  • An amendment to include the Fourth Amendment is Not for Sale Act, which prevents the government from buying Americans’ information from third parties without a warrant;
  • An amendment to strengthen oversight and the role of independent third parties in the FISA Court.

Unfortunately, these bipartisan and commonsense amendments supported by Tester were not approved by the Senate. As such, Tester opposed the final bill.

Earlier this week, Tester issued a statement expressing concerns that reauthorizing FISA Section 702 would undermine Montanans’ freedom and privacy.

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 FISA Section 702 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. 

Tester has introduced his Government Surveillance Reform Act to better protect Americans from warrantless searches by the government and law enforcement agencies by making significant reforms to FISA Section 702. Tester’s 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.


Related Issues