Thursday, June 19, 2008

U.S. House Approves Electronic Surveillance Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 293-129 to approve a bill (H.R. 6304) that grants immunity to telecom firms that participated in President Bush's warrantless surveillance program. The bill, which serves as an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), affirms that the FISA courts and procedures are the exclusive means of collecting foreign intelligence. Electronic eavesdropping without court approval is permitted only during emergencies, so long as the government agencies conducting the surveillance submit justifications to the FISA court within one week. The bill also requires court permission and establishment of probable cause for surveillance of Americans overseas, and prohibits a process in which the communications of a U.S. citizen could be monitored without court approval by targeting a foreigner.

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