Josh Hawley Moves to End FBI ‘Power Grab’ in Spy Powers Bill

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Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) on Thursday said he introduced an amendment to end an FBI “power grab” in a spy powers bill that is meant to rein in government surveillance abuse.

Hawley wrote, “Everyone should know about the Turner Amendment. This part of the House bill gives the FBI the power to press even MORE individuals into helping facilitate government surveillance. Could your landlord or your handyman be sharing your info with the FBI? Maybe.”

The Missouri senator sent out a dire warning about the amendment sponsored by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner (R-OH) and committee ranking member Jim Himes (D-CT).

Breitbart News has reported on this amendment and how it could dramatically expand the number of businesses and Americans that would have to comply with the government and provide warrantless access to their communications systems.

Essentially, the measure updates the definition of electronic service provider to also include “any other service provider who has access to equipment that is being or may be used to transmit or store wire or electronic communications.”

This provision has been referred to by privacy advocates as a “trojan horse” for “PATRIOT Act 2.0.”

Hawley contended that this expanded access would benefit the FBI, an agency that does not “deserve” more power, given their abuse.

He asked rhetorically, “Remember the Durham report? It found the FBI abused their power to open an investigation into the Trump campaign.”

He continued, “And the FBI’s record on Section 702 is just as bad. In 2022, a judge identified around 278,000 improper searches on Americans in the FISA database. This is the same FBI the House decided to give even MORE power too. It’s insane. And it must be stopped.”

Related: Jim Jordan: There are 204k Reasons to Oppose FISA Reauthorization

House Committee on the Judiciary / YouTube


Steve Bradbury, a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation, explained to Breitbart News how this amendment is so vast in scope that experts such as he may not know how many companies would have to comply with the Himes-Turner amendment.

Bradbury said to:

… think about third party contractors who may have access to equipment? What about, for example, a janitorial company, who has a key to a data center and comes in and cleans up the data center floor or something? Technically, they have access to the equipment. Could the NSA [National Security Agency] hit the janitorial company with an order requiring them to give the NSA access to that data center? So, the implications of it are troubling. And the full scope is unknowable at this point.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) referred to this provision as “one of the most dramatic and terrifying expansions of government surveillance authority in history.”

The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), a tech association which represents companies such as Apple and Google, said that this provision could drastically expand how companies have to comply with warrantless surveillance.

ITI Senior Vice President  of Policy and General Counsel John Miller said in a statement on Thursday:

While we appreciate that the Department of Justice acknowledged today it would use the new authority narrowly and in a way that implicates an ‘extremely small’ number of companies, our outstanding concerns ultimately must be addressed in statute. We thank Chairman Warner for hiscommitment to working to improve this provision prior to the next sunset of FISA authorities.

To counteract this controversial proposal, Hawley said he introduced an amendment to stop it.

Hawley concluded, “Bottom line: the government doesn’t deserve more open-ended surveillance authority. I’ve introduced an amendment to stop this new power grab before it’s too late.”

Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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