Gaby Del Valle, reporting for The Verge:

Sens. Wyden and Lummis introduce an amendment limiting FISA’s warrantless wiretapping powers. The amendment would reverse a provision included in the recent House bill reauthorizing Section 702 of FISA that expands the definition of “electronic communications service provider,” which critics say would force Americans to essentially spy for the government.

“Forcing ordinary Americans and small businesses to conduct secret, warrantless spying is what authoritarian countries do, not democracies,” Wyden said in a statement.

The House of Representatives recently re-authorized Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which, ironically, allows the Federal Bureau of Investigation to perform clandestine searches of American citizens on American soil without a warrant or their consent. The government justifies this by saying FISA is a critical national security tool to prevent foreign attacks on the United States, but the act is mostly used to surveil Americans, not foreigners. If FISA is not re-authorized by Saturday, the government can no longer spy on its citizens — foreign and abroad — however it pleases without even a warrant to justify its actions.

Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, and many progressive Democrats in the House who unsuccessfully voted against re-authorizing FISA have expressed concerns about this warrantless searching, but nevertheless, it seems increasingly likely that the original version of Section 702 will be re-authorized by the weekend. But the new version of FISA, which extends the program for two years, also includes an amendment courtesy of House Republicans to expand the definition of “electronic communications providers,” i.e., companies that are required to provide data when the government requests it. This definition, until now, has only included smartphone makers and other telecommunications companies, like Apple and Google, but the latest House amendment that passed also requires cloud computing firms to provide data.

This effectively means that the government, from now on, will be permitted to ask Amazon Web Services for all the user data associated with one account, which could include practically an entire person’s business life because most people and small businesses use one cloud provider to host their website or other business tools. Google Cloud, AWS, and even Apple’s iCloud servers are all susceptible to this unprecedented, warrantless searching, which, as Wyden and Senator Cynthia Lummis, Republican of Wyoming, say, is precisely what authoritarian regimes do. Russia and China employ this exact kind of surveillance to silence their people, and it is absolutely astounding to me that nobody has taken this law to court over a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

If the new amendment is passed — which seems increasingly likely based on the bipartisan support the latest bill has enjoyed in both the House and Senate — it would open Americans up to a brand new front of dangerous government surveillance akin to communist regimes like China. I don’t think Congress should axe FISA entirely, unlike many progressives and far-right “Make America Great Again” Republicans, but I think there should be an amendment to prevent warrantless searches. And Wyden and Lummis’ amendment in the Senate, in an ideal world, should pass, because allowing the government to surveil data stored in the cloud is blatant government overreach.