Davidson Praises Inclusion of Internet Privacy Amendments in FISA Reauthorization

May 26, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Congressman Warren Davidson praised the inclusion of the Lofgren-Davidson Amendment in the package for consideration when the House votes to reauthorize expired sections of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The Lofgren-Davidson Amendment prevents intelligence agencies from searching Americans’ private search and web browsing histories without first obtaining a warrant.

After the announcement, Congressman Davidson made the following statement:

“For too long, Americans’ most private information has been compromised by vague laws and lax privacy protections. With the vote on the Lofgren-Davidson Amendment to FISA reform this week, we take an important step toward restoring Americans’ long-neglected Fourth Amendment rights. Protecting Americans’ internet browser searches from warrantless surveillance is a modest, though important first step. With the amendment’s adoption, I will be voting to reauthorize the expired sections of FISA and urge my colleagues to do the same.”

Lofgren-Davidson Amendment Details

The amendment – which is supported by Reps. Adam Schiff, Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Jerrold Nadler, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee – is an outright prohibition: the government will not be able to use Section 215 to collect the websites that a U.S. person visits, the videos that a U.S. person watches, or the search queries that a U.S. person makes.
Specifically:
  • If the government is not sure if you’re a U.S. person, but you could be, the government cannot get your internet activity without a Title I FISA warrant.
  • If the government wants to order a service provider to produce a list of everyone who has visited a particular website, watched a particular video, or made a particular search query: the government cannot make that order unless it can guarantee that no U.S. persons’ IP addresses, device identifiers, or other identifiers will be disclosed to the government.
    • This amendment does not allow for the incidental collection of U.S. persons’ web browsing or search information when the target is a specific-selection term that would or could produce such information.
  • This prohibition is a strict liability-type provision. (It isn’t a knowledge standard or a reasonable-belief standard. An order must not result in the production of a U.S. person’s web browsing or search information.)
  • If the order would or could result in the production of a U.S. person’s web browsing or search information, the government cannot order it without a Title I FISA warrant that must be narrowly tailored toward the subject of the warrant.

Prior Actions

On May 20, 2020, Lofgren and Warren Davidson (R-OH-8) urged House leaders to allow a vote on a companion Wyden-Daines amendment when issuing a rule for the Senate amendment to H.R. 6172, the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2020.

On May 13, 2020, ahead of the Senate Floor vote, Lofgren and Warren Davidson (R-OH-8), sent a letter to Senate leaders in support of the Lee-Leahy and Wyden-Daines amendments.

On March 16, 2020, Lofgren and Davidson sent a letter urging Senators to reject the unamended version of the USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act.

On March, 10, 2020, Lofgren and Davidson announced their support for two bipartisan bills, S. 3420 and S. 3421, introduced by Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Patrick Leahy (D-VA) that provide two paths forward for NSA surveillance reform.

On February 27, 2020, following the postponement of the markup for H.R. ___, the “USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020,” in the House Judiciary Committee the day before, Lofgren and Davidson sent a letter to Chairman Jerrold Nadler urging him to schedule a markup of their bipartisan bill, H.R. 5675.

On January 24, 2020, Lofgren, Davidson and a coalition of bipartisan Representatives joined Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) in introducing bicameral surveillance reform legislation that:

  • closes loopholes and strengthens oversight to prevent government overreach and abuse;
  • permanently ends the indiscriminate collection of massive amounts of domestic communications;
  • prohibits warrantless collection of geolocation and web browsing data by intelligence agencies; and
  • ensures the Intelligence Community is held to the standards established under the Fourth Amendment.