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.

Over the course of the past year, EPIC has worked 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 exploit loopholes in surveillance authorities that compromise our privacy and civil liberties.

EPIC and our coalition partners have identified necessary reforms to Section 702 and other authorities, most of which were included in the recently introduced Government Surveillance Reform Act (GSRA). We have advocated for these reforms on the Hill and participated in briefings on Section 702 and related surveillance issues, educating members and their staff on the need for significant reforms. Finally, EPIC and our coalition partners have continued to call on the government and intelligence agencies to come to the table to discuss meaningful reforms, rather than proposing mere tweaks in the face of egregious and persistent abuses of these authorities.

We Urge Congress To Pass the Government Surveillance Reform Act (GSRA):

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

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    The GSRA would rein in the broader warrantless surveillance ecosystem by closing the Data Broker Loophole and by ensuring that the government cannot circumvent statutory and constitutional requirements to collect Americans’ sensitive information.

  • The GSRA would ensure meaningful judicial review of government surveillance by strengthening the FISA Court process and eliminating barriers to redress in traditional courts.

    Supreme Court

The bipartisan, bicameral Government Surveillance Reform Act (GSRA) is led by Senators Ron Wyden and Mike Lee, as well as Representatives Warren Davidson and Zoe Lofgren.

Senate cosponsors include: Senators Hirono (D-HI), Daines (R-MT), Tester (D-MT), Lummis (R-WY), Heinrich (D-NM), Warren (D-MA), Markey (D-MA), and Baldwin (D-WI).

House cosponsors include: Representatives Biggs (R-AZ), Jacobs (D-CA), Massie (R-KY), Jayapal (D-WA), Armstrong (R-ND), Chu (D-CA), Carey (R-OH), Correa (D-CA), Mace (R-SC), Cohen (D-TN), Deluzio (D-PA), Doggett (D-TX), Hoyle (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Lieu (D-CA).

EPIC has endorsed the GSRA along with dozens of civil society organizations, including:

Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Americans for Prosperity, Asian American Scholar Forum (AASF), Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Center for Democracy & Technology, Chinese for Affirmative Action, Color of Change, Defending Rights & Dissent, Demand Progress, Due Process Institute, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Fight for the Future, FreedomWorks, Free Press Action, Libertas Institute, Muslim Advocates, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), Project for Privacy and Surveillance Accountability (PPSA), Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Restore the Fourth, Secure Justice, Stop AAPI Hate, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, United We Dream, and X-Lab.

For more information, see EPIC’s materials on the GSRA:

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