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Renewal of FISA Section 702 meets some resistance in congress.

While senior government officials have warned against allowing FISA Section 702 to lapse (or undergo significant changes), privacy advocates and other consumer rights groups are rallying for the U.S. Congress not to renew it without "substantial reforms." 

FISA Section 702 allows U.S. agencies to conduct warrantless searches of non-U.S. residents, including information from communications over U.S. telecommunications providers (including email). The FBI says it is critical for fighting threats against the United States, and was instrumental in responding to the 2021 Colonial Pipeline hack, which disrupted fuel supplies along the southeast United States for days. 

However, the breadth of surveillance permitted under FISA Section 702 has also been a significant issue in approving the EU-U.S. Data Protection Framework, with claims that the data collected under FISA Section 702 can be used in violation of privacy rights of both Americans as well as Europeans. In fact, a court order that was unsealed last month showed that the FBI improperly searched the database for information about Americans more than 278,000 times over a few years. 

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, ultimately gets passed. On one hand, if the intelligence officials are to be believed, it is critical for national security. On the other hand, in its current form it is a clear risk to the economy if it threatens to stop cross-border data flows between the European Economic Area, United Kingdom, and Switzerland to the United States as recent European Court of Justice cases would suggest. 

Senior U.S. government officials warned on Tuesday of serious national security risks if a key surveillance program set to expire this year isn't renewed, but declined to share specifics of cases in which it had been useful. The renewal faces stiff resistance from critics, including rights groups and some members of Congress. A group of 21 privacy and other rights organisations, including the U.S. nonprofit Center for Democracy & Technology, in a joint statement issued on Monday urged Congress not to renew the law without "substantial reforms."


nationalintelligence, privacy, cyber security