U.S. House votes to extend surveillance, NordVPN warns of privacy dangers

Jan. 12, 2018

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday to reauthorize the NSA warrantless surveillance program, called Section 702 of FISA. The vote rejected a push to enforce significant privacy limits and to restrain sweeping surveillance of Americans’ online communications.

President Trump added to the controversy by speculating on Twitter that FISA had been used as the authority to spy on the Trump campaign—later clarifying his stance, saying America needed this law.

Technology and cybersecurity experts, including NordVPN, spoke out against the new bill. “Section 702 of FISA allows the government to collect communications data from U.S. companies—including Google or Internet Service Providers—of foreigners abroad, without a warrant,” said Marty P. Kamden, cybersecurity expert and CMO of NordVPN. “This vote is a huge loss for privacy and civil liberties. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act can be used for spying on Americans as well, since it’s enough for any person to use one of the suspicious queries in their communication, and all their emails will be collected. This can lead to significant privacy loss.”

Just two years ago, U.S. had adopted a law that ended the NSA’s bulk collection of U.S. phone-call records, a top-secret program brought to light by Edward Snowden. Lawmakers had been looking to add significant privacy safeguards to the warrantless surveillance program, too—but the current vote came as a big setback for those concerned about their privacy.

“If this bill passes through the Senate next week, it will mark the end of the debate over privacy rights that broke out in 2013 after the Snowden leaks,” said Kamden. “It means that the wide-ranging NSA surveillance of the Internet will likely continue, and the government will retain warrantless access to emails and browsing history of Americans and foreigners. The surveillance will continue to operate without proper oversight, regularly violating the Fourth Amendment.”

For those who are worried about their privacy and government surveillance, NordVPN recommends using a reliable VPN service both in the U.S. and abroad. Even though it won’t protect users from all possible means of surveillance, a VPN will keep a user’s online communications private and safe from the bulk collection by applying strong encryption.


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