December 31, 2012
Federal detectives won’t need a warrant to eavesdrop on the emails and phone calls of Americans for another five years. President Obama reauthorized an intelligence gathering bill on Sunday that puts national security over constitutional rights.
President Barack Obama inked his name over the weekend to an extension of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, a George W. Bush-era legislation that has allowed the government expansive spy powers that has been considered by some to be dragnet surveillance.
FISA, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was first signed into law in the 1970s in order to put into place rules regarding domestic spying within the United States. Upon the passing of the FAA in 2008, however, the online and over-the-phone activities of Americans became subject to sweeping, warrantless wiretapping in instances where investigators reasonably suspect US citizens to be engaged in conversation with persons located outside of the country.
Congress had only up until the end of 2012 to either reauthorize FISA and the FAA, or let the bill expire. Despite a large grassroots campaign from privacy advocates and civil liberties organization to ensure the acts would fade from history, though, the Senate approved a five-year extension of the legislation on Friday. Just two days later, Pres. Obama signed his name to the act, opening up the inboxes and phone records of US citizens to the federal government until at least 2018.