A coalition of 63 Asian American and allied organizations are urging lawmakers to resist the extension of Section 702, a surveillance program believed to disproportionately impact Asian Americans.
Driving the news: With Section 702 set to expire at the end of the year, Senate leaders are reportedly considering attaching an extension of it to a “must pass” bill. The program at present is expected to continue until April under “transition procedures.”
About Section 702: Section 702, which operates under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), is a surveillance program designed to collect information related to national security threats from foreigners outside the U.S. Granted through annual certifications, it relies on the mandatory assistance of American telecom providers.
Alleged misuse: Asian Americans, including Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities, are likely overrepresented in the surveillance due to their overseas ties with family, friends and business associates, according to a fact sheet released by some of the groups last month. Years of racial profiling, current geopolitical tensions and prevailing stereotypes of Asians being “perpetual foreigners” are also believed to lead to the program’s misuse.
What critics are saying: The coalition on Tuesday issued a letter to Congress opposing the inclusion of a short-term reauthorization of the program in a continuing resolution or any other “must pass” legislation. They argued that its misuse has profoundly impacted Asian Americans, resulting in “wrongful targeting, unjust surveillance and devastating tolls on careers, livelihoods and reputations.”
What’s next: The coalition demands a standalone legislation subject to open debate and amendment. Aside from these 63 organizations, other civil rights groups have also reached out to Senate leadership to oppose the program’s short-term extension.