Civics: Senator Tammy Baldwin on Warrantless Donestic Surveillance

From Tammy Baldwin’s office, via email. source

Thank you for contacting me about the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. It is good to hear from you.

On April 19, 2024, Congress voted to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Keeping our families safe should not come at the expense of Americans’ fundamental right to privacy. From the PATRIOT Act to the creation the FISA Section 702 program, I’ve consistently opposed measures that would give the government free reign to spy on innocent, law-abiding Americans. On April 19, 2024, I stood firm with colleagues from both parties and I voted against reauthorizing FISA to prevent the warrantless surveillance of American citizens.

I cosponsored bipartisan legislation that takes a better approach to reauthorize and reform important intelligence programs to ensure we have the tools we need to fight terrorism, while also protecting the constitutional rights guaranteed to every American. Protecting Americans against our adversaries and protecting the privacy of law-abiding citizens are not mutually exclusive goals, and I remain committed to protecting both.

Additionally, I am deeply troubled by previous revelations regarding the unacceptable domestic electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies. As someone who voted against the original USA PATRIOT Act (P.L.107-56) because of its clear potential for government overreach, I believe Congress needs to take action to rein in activities that clearly violate Americans’ civil liberties. Indeed, laws like the USA PATRIOT Act and FISA Amendments Act (P.L.112-238), which I also opposed, permit the government to conduct mass, untargeted surveillance of communications entering and exiting the United States, without any individualized review, without any finding of wrongdoing and without serious court oversight.

In 2020, the Senate passed its reauthorization of the USA FREEDOM Act. I opposed the passage of this bill because it did not go far enough to reform government authorities and protect Americans’ privacy. I was particularly disappointed that the Senate rejected an amendment I cosponsored that would have prohibited the government from using Section 215 to obtain U.S. individuals’ internet search and browsing history.

I had hoped that the Senate would instead adopt more of the FISA reforms included in the Safeguarding Americans’ Private Records Act, of which I was a cosponsor. This bill would have put a permanent end to the NSA’s call data records program and removed all authority for the collection of phone records without a warrant. It also would have reformed the FISA court process and created new public reporting requirements for any information collected under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.

I appreciate knowing your views on the reauthorization of Section 702 of FISA. Please be assured that I will continue to fight to protect the privacy and freedoms of law-abiding Americans.

Once again, thank you for contacting my office. It is important for me to hear from the people of Wisconsin on the issues, thoughts and concerns that matter most to you. If I can be of further assistance, please visit my website at for information on how to contact my office. Sincerely,

Tammy Baldwin
United States Senator