FISA Section 702 faces renewal battle in congress

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Right before the year 2023 runs out, Congress must decide whether to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows intelligence agencies to conduct warrantless surveillance of non-American citizens outside the United States.

Gen. Paul Nakasone, Director of the United States National Security Agency and Commander of the United States Cyber Command, is advocating for the renewal of a key component of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Unless Congress acts, Section 702 will expire at the end of the year, and Nakasone argued that “the authority plays an outsized role in protecting our nation.”

He claims that the act has assisted the US government in preventing planned terrorist plots and cyber espionage campaigns. However, the slowing of terrorist attacks on American soil, as well as dissatisfaction with federal law enforcement’s handling of a slew of politically charged investigations, have eroded support for the program.

In the long run, the lack of public disclosures about how 702 is used behind closed doors is working against it, as its opponents are banking on the lack of public information as the basis for its discontinuation. The positive is that intelligence agencies frequently cannot share their work in order not to jeopardize ongoing investigations, making it difficult to publicly justify the broad surveillance power.

Meanwhile, intelligence officials and some legislators have stated that they are open to discussing reforms, but that maintaining the authority’s efficacy is a top priority.

The sources for this piece include an article in Axios.

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