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Monday, 20 March 2017 18:52

Trump's Russian imbroglio prompts Republican rethink on surveillance law

Written by  Reuters

WASHINGTON Some Republican lawmakers appear to be reassessing whether to make changes to a surveillance law that allows broad snooping of Internet communications, citing concerns over the handling of classified intercepts after leaks of conversations between Russian officials and American associates of President Donald Trump.

The law, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, allows U.S. intelligence agencies to collect vast amounts of communications from foreigners, but often incidentally scoops up the communications of Americans.

Until recently most Republicans have been quick to defend Section 702 and Congress had been expected to renew it without major changes before it expires at the end of the year.

Though long criticized by privacy advocates, a new front of potential opposition to Section 702 has emerged as Republicans sputter about what they view as politically motivated leaks by the agencies amid probes of any collusion between the Russian government and Trump's 2016 presidential election campaign.

The tensions burst into full view on Monday at a U.S. House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee hearing, during which FBI Director James Comey confirmed his agency was investigating those ties.

Republican Representative Tom Rooney told Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, who also testified, that concern over leaks would undermine support for Section 702, even though it appears to not have led directly to the leaks Republicans are fuming over.

Read more at Reuters

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