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United States Privacy Digest | Notes from the IAPP Publications Editor, Jan. 12, 2018 Related reading: FTC’s Chopra: US regulators must not fail us again

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Greetings from an unseasonably warm Portsmouth, NH!

Though we're expected to have a "flash freeze" tomorrow here in New England — yes, the temperature is expected to drop from the 50s to the low teens in a matter of hours — the real heat this week took place on Capitol Hill. After "kicking the can down the road" for the last year, Congress finally voted Thursday on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act. In a 256-164 vote, the House of Representatives approved a straight-up renewal of the surveillance provision, which allows U.S. intelligence to gather information on foreign subjects. Critics have argued the provision allows for a "backdoor" search of American citizens. To address that loophole, Reps. Justin Amash, R-Mich., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., proposed an alternative bill that would have required a warrant prior to searching through the data of American citizens when collected in relation to the surveillance of foreign citizens. 

But that proposal was voted down, 183-233. 

U.S. President Donald Trump momentarily cast confusion on the morning's vote after he posted a set of what appeared to be contradictory tweets about Section 702 reform. Some Democrats went as far as proposing that the House delay a vote until the president's comments were clarified. 

Now the vote moves to the U.S. Senate, where at least two lawmakers — Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rand Paul, R-Ky. — are threatening a filibuster if privacy-protecting warrant provisions are not included in 702 reauthorization. If the Senate does pass a straight-up reauthorization of Section 702, it could negatively impact the tenuous EU-U.S. Privacy Shield framework. Both the European Commission and Article 29 Working Party have been clear about the need for better data protection provisions in U.S. surveillance law. In today's Digest below, Twilio General Counsel Karyn Smith convincingly argues that not including privacy protections into 702 will have economic consequences for U.S. companies doing business with the EU market.  

To dive further into Section 702 and what it means for U.S. businesses, be sure to check out the latest Privacy Advisor Podcast from Angelique Carson. In today's episode, she chats with IAPP Westin Fellow Lee Matheson to discuss what privacy pros should take away from Thursday's vote and what it means moving forward. 

In the meantime, I'll be enjoying the waning hours of 50-degree temperatures and desperately hoping a potential ice storm Saturday won't cause any power outages, preventing me from watching the New England Patriots dismantle the Tennessee Titans. Go Pats!

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