FISA Can Be Fixed Without Risking American Lives

NSA seal

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance act is set to expire in five weeks, and to hear current and former intelligence officials tell it, changing a single word in this statute will result in no less than the loss of American lives. This hyperbole is obscuring the nature of proposed legislative reforms and preventing a fact-based debate about how to protect everyday people from this broad surveillance authority. It’s time to get some things straight.

Briefly, Section 702 passed in 2008 and permits the government to surveil overseas targets with the compelled assistance of U.S. communication providers. Under 702, the government secures annual approval from the FISA court to conduct the program, including approval for the rules governing how it will choose its overseas targets and how it will use the information it collects.

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