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The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday voted to advance a proposal to reform the National Security Agency’s (NSA) warrantless surveillance program due to sunset at the end of this year.

The vote was 12-3, according to Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the committee’s top Democrat. It will renew the law for eight years and place some restrictions on the FBI’s ability to use known Americans’ information collected under the program. 
 
Among the reforms, according to Warner, is a requirement that investigators receive approval from a clandestine surveillance court in order to use a known American’s information — but not a court order to search the database, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) had pushed to include. 
 
“If a court determined that some agent had inappropriately used [that database], that information could not be used in any further proceedings,” Warner said Tuesday
 
It’s unclear whether those restrictions would apply to both criminal and national security investigators. {mosads}
 
The legislation would also require the NSA to seek approval from the surveillance court in order to restart so-called “about” collection — messages about but not to or from a target — which the agency halted voluntarily earlier this year. 
 
It would also give Congress the discretion to weigh in and nix the program. 
 
The law authorizing the surveillance program, known as Section 702, is seen by federal investigators as one of the most vital tools the U.S. has to identify and disrupt terror plots.

It allows the government to collect emails and text messages sent by foreign spies, terrorists and other foreign targets overseas. Under the law, federal investigators are allowed to search that database for Americans who may have communicated with a foreign target.

The Trump administration has been stumping hard for a clean, permanent reauthorization of the program.

But civil liberties advocates say the current law infringes on the Fourth Amendment and lawmakers from both chambers have said that a clean renewal does not have the votes to pass the House.

Tags Dianne Feinstein Mark Warner

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