Vote to Reauthorize Warrantless Surveillance a Blow to Free Expression
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK—The House of Representatives’ vote to reauthorize a surveillance program under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) Amendments Act for another six years, sweeping in the communications of writers, journalists, human rights advocates, and others who are targeted both here and overseas, poses an acute threat to free expression across the globe, PEN America said today.
The House voted to reauthorize “Section 702” of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) Amendments Act, a 2007 law that permits U.S. intelligence to intercept emails and phone calls of targets overseas without a warrant, even when they are talking to people in the United States who are not suspected of any wrongdoing. Section 702 also permits federal law enforcement to search these communications, again without a warrant, in ordinary criminal inquiries.
“Threats to privacy are threats to free speech, especially for those speaking truth to power, like writers and journalists in the U.S. and around the world,” said PEN America Washington Director Gabe Rottman. “The House vote to reauthorize warrantless surveillance poses an acute threat to free expression across the globe, but it is doubly concerning given President Trump’s apparent willingness to target and silence his critics, especially those in the press.”
PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.