On November 30, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) introduced a bill to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
A crucial tool used by the Intelligence Community to thwart terror attacks, Section 702 allows for targeted intelligence collection on foreign terrorists located outside the United States. The bill—the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 4478)—will renew Section 702 authorities for four years. Without renewal, the authorities will expire on December 31, 2017.
The bill will make key changes to Section 702 and other intelligence authorities to protect Americans’ privacy rights while retaining the program’s effectiveness in combatting terrorism. Specifically, the bill:
- Restricts the use of Section 702 collection in criminal prosecutions of U.S. citizens except in a small number of specific circumstances.
- Requires specific procedures for the querying of Section 702 collection that must be annually reviewed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
- Mandates new procedures for unmasking Americans’ names in intelligence reports in order to better safeguard Americans’ privacy rights and civil liberties.
- Improves transparency by mandating the publication of Section 702 minimization procedures as well as requiring additional reporting to Congress on how the Intelligence Community is using other FISA authorities.
- Temporarily ceases “abouts” collection—involving the collection of communications that refer to, but are neither to nor from, a specific target—until the Intelligence Community presents Congress with new procedures for “abouts” collection that address compliance concerns.
- Enhances the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board by empowering it to act in the absence of a Chairman.
- Codifies in statute the privacy and civil liberties officers at the NSA, CIA, and FBI.
HPSCI Chairman Devin Nunes said, “It’s a constant challenge to strike the right balance between security and privacy—this balance must be regularly re-evaluated in response to technological innovations and the evolution of threats to U.S. forces and Americans at home and abroad. This bill updates the rules on Section 702 and other collection by strengthening privacy protections and transparency without hindering the ability of our intelligence professionals to monitor terror suspects, analyze collected data, and keep us safe.”
HPSCI will mark up the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017 on December 1. The bill text is available here.