The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) submits the following statement for the record summarizing the privacy and civil liberties concerns presented by surveillance under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), along with policy recommendations for addressing those concerns.
Section 702 is scheduled to sunset on December 31, 2017, and the reauthorization process presents an opportunity to consider reforms. Unlike the independent reviews of bulk collection of telephone call records conducted under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, independent reviews of Section 702 surveillance confirm that 702 surveillance has been useful in thwarting terrorist attacks. From publicly available information, we do not believe the proposed amendments we discuss below affect the core program as described by the administration: targeting terrorists and other high value security targets abroad without first obtaining an individualized probable cause warrant. Instead, our recommendations are calibrated to focus the warrantless surveillance program onto its appropriate purpose, intelligence gathering for the detection and prevention of national security threats to the United States, including terrorism.