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 February 13, 2024

Rep. Davidson urges Speaker Johnson to use spy powers debate to update FISA loophole

Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) is under the gun regarding the Biden administration's attempt to exploit a surveillance loophole that allows the government to purchase phone location data on American citizens.

According to Politico, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) authored a letter to Speaker Johnson and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) "urging them to use a revived debate over controversial surveillance power to also prevent data brokers from selling consumer information to law enforcement."

Davidson's letter to the Republican House leaders was obtained exclusively by Politico.

The Ohio Republican wrote that Congress has a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to update FISA laws to protect law-abiding gun owners.

What's in the letter?

The loophole referenced was originally meant to target foreigners abroad, but it also allowed government law enforcement agencies to purchase phone location data of American citizens.

House Republicans are aiming to bring a revived bill to change the language in section 702 this week. The House Judiciary Committee has already passed legislation that will prevent the sale of phone location data of U.S. citizens to law enforcement agencies.

It's not only Republicans interested in making the changes, as some progressives who fall under the banner of "privacy hawks" are also pushing for the change.

Politico noted:

But a coalition of privacy hawks, including both progressives and conservatives in the House, view the data broker issue as a top priority for the 702 debate. They are expected to get a vote on an amendment related to it as part of this week’s debate.

In part, Davidson's letter read, "It is vital that any forthcoming legislation Section 702 … close the data broker loophole. Congress now has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to update our laws to protect Americans’ liberty, Americans’ right to privacy and the Second Amendment."

Lobbyists working overtime

GOP lawmakers are also receiving heavy support from high-profile allies, including Aidan Johnston, Gun Owners of America’s director of federal affairs. Johnston told Politico that his organization is watching the issue closely.

He said his group is "is closely tracking the FISA loophole allowing federal law enforcement to buy lists of gun owners and concealed carry permit holders without a warrant or regard for the Second and Fourth Amendments."

"We have serious concerns about the potential for the federal government to weaponize this data against Americans, especially given the Biden administration’s lengthy record of harassing and prosecuting political opponents, including gun owners."

Thank goodness there are lawmakers taking this subject seriously and treating it as a high priority, as there's no telling what the Biden administration would eventually do with such data.

Written By:
Ryan Ledendecker

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