A keynote Speech by NSA Director, GEN Paul M. Nakasone at the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Public Forum, stressed the importance of Section 702, and without Congress acting, it will sunset on December 31, 2023, unless Congress passes legislation to reauthorize it. Said Nakasone, “Without Section 702, we will lose critical insights into the most significant threats to our nation...FISA Section 702 is irreplaceable. It is focused and limited, yet agile enough to address national security threats in an ever-changing, technological and threat environment.”
Nakasone could be gearing up for a fight with hardliner Republicans - some of whom blame the intelligence community on Trump’s challenges as President - along with privacy-minded Democrats who feel the NSA - and other facets of the U.S. intelligence apparatus - are too powerful and violate civil liberties. The GOP House, on a party-line vote of 221 to 211 with all Democrats opposed, approved the formation of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which will be chaired by one of President Trump’s staunchest allies, Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio.
Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said Congress had created an effective “national security exception to the U.S. Constitution..." and that..."The American people and indeed people all around the world have lost the ability to have a private conversation over digital networks.”
Even with the criticism of Section 702, Republicans are expected to push GOP hardliners into supporting a renewal of the program. Said Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican, “We've got to have a discussion within our own caucus, but I feel good about the groundwork we've laid.”
What is Section 702?
Section 702 is a key provision of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 that permits the government to conduct targeted surveillance of foreign persons located outside the United States, with the compelled assistance of electronic
communication service providers, to acquire foreign intelligence information. The government uses the information collected under Section 702 to protect the United States and its allies from hostile foreign adversaries, including
terrorists, proliferators, and spies, and to inform cybersecurity efforts.
Who Can the IC Target Under Section 702?
Non-U.S. persons, Located abroad, Who are expected to possess, receive, or communicate foreign intelligence information.
How is the Program Approved?
The Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence submit to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) certifications that specify categories of foreign intelligence that the IC can use Section 702 to collect. Such certifications may be effective for up to one year and must be resubmitted annually.
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