FISA Section 702: Reform or Sunset

EPIC’s Work to Reform Section 702

Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 authorizes surveillance programs targeting non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States to acquire “foreign intelligence information” with compelled cooperation of U.S. service providers. Importantly, Section 702 allows the government to conduct this surveillance without adhering to traditional FISA rules and without individualized court orders by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). While billed as an important counterterrorism authority, Section 702 surveillance programs have increasingly been used for cybersecurity investigations and as a tool for domestic surveillance.

Section 702 is will sunset in December 31, 2023 if it is not reauthorized by Congress. Ahead of this deadline, EPIC has launched a blog series on Section 702 to highlight the need for significant reform of this foreign intelligence surveillance authority. EPIC is also working with a large, bipartisan coalition of civil society groups to put pressure on Congress to reform Section 702 as part of broader surveillance reform to ensure intelligence agencies cannot continue to find loopholes in surveillance authorities that compromise our privacy and civil liberties. It is imperative that Congress meaningfully act to reform Section 702 or let the authority sunset.

We Urge Congress To:

  • Close the backdoor search loophole and require all agencies to obtain a warrant based on probable cause before conducting a U.S. person query;

  • Limit the scope of collection under Section 702—including by codifying the end of “abouts collection”—to prohibit surveillance of individuals with no connection to terrorism or other congressionally-authorized categories of targets;

  • Ensure meaningful judicial review of government surveillance by strengthening the FISA Court process and eliminating barriers to redress in traditional courts;

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    Enact broader surveillance reform to ensure that the government cannot circumvent statutory and constitutional requirements to engage in foreign intelligence surveillance, such as by purchasing personal data.

See the rest EPIC’s major priorities for surveillance reform as part of the FISA Section 702 reauthorization process.