Friday, February 23, 2024

Keeping the gov't from snooping

by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester
| November 6, 2017 6:32 PM

As Montanans we don’t like outsiders putting their noses in our business. The government is certainly no exception, especially when it comes to gathering information on law-abiding Montanans.

There are bad folks out there who want to do us harm: terrorists, gang members, folks who will stop at nothing to see our nation suffer. But law-abiding citizens of this great country should never become the target. Hardworking families in Lincoln County shouldn’t have to worry about the government gathering their personal information.

That’s why I’ve fought hard to keep Uncle Sam from snooping on the good folks and instead focus on the terrorists. Since that fateful and horrific day in September of 2001, we have seen a massive increase in the spying powers of our government. And while this expansion might have had good intentions, we’ve seen government abuse these powers to cut corners.

If the federal government wants information on law-abiding Montanans, it better have a good and legal reason. If the government wants to read a Libby grandma’s e-mails to her nephew in Hong Kong, they better have a warrant. And the law-abiding college student from Troy, Montana shouldn’t have to worry about his data being compromised by the government when he studies abroad in Sydney, Australia. That’s why I introduced the bipartisan USA RIGHTS Act. This legislation will protect the citizens of Lincoln County from having their private information unknowingly collected by the government.

Current law allows the government to surveil the communications of non-U.S. citizens who are abroad. Recent reports have shown that U.S. citizens are getting caught up in this surveillance. This bill will defend Montanans from increasing government intrusion and protect our constitutional right to privacy. It will end warrantless searches of data, prevent warrantless targeting of Americans, and strengthen oversight of surveillance courts.

This bill will keep our country safe, without changing who we are as a nation or trampling on our constitutional rights. We need to be vigilant in standing up to terrorists and foreign enemies who want to ruin the American Dream, but we cannot let their threats compromise our Montana values. Keeping the government out of our business is a Montana value that I will proudly defend.