"Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act"

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy introduced a new version of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act of 2014 (the “USA FREEDOM Act” or “Act”) in the Senate on Tuesday, more than two months House of Representatives passed a version of the bill that omitted several reforms sought by privacy advocates.

Leahy, a co-author of the original bill, said the updated legislation has the support of the Obama Administration.  The Reform Government Surveillance coalition of technology companies, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation also support the new version, according to a statement by Leahy’s office.  The measure has 13 co-sponsors in the Senate, including Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).

The proposed Act would effectively ban bulk collection of phone records by circumscribing the scope and application of the so-called “business records” provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (also known as Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act).  It makes clear that the government may not collect all information relating to a particular service provider or to a broad geographic region, such as a city, zip code or area code.


Continue Reading New Version of USA Freedom Act Introduced

Since 1979, the United States Government has made at least 35,651 applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) for authority to conduct electronic surveillance and physical searches of individuals.[1]  Of those requests, only 12 have been denied; 532 requests have been formally modified.  According to one judge on the FISC, a substantially higher

By Jim Garland, David Fagan, and Alex Berengaut

On January 27, 2014, the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence announced that the U.S. government will allow Internet companies and telecommunications providers to disclose more information about government demands for customer data in national security investigations.  The government’s new transparency policy addresses legal demands served under two distinct statutory authorities.  First, under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”), the government can apply to the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (“FISC”) for orders compelling providers to disclose both the contents of their customers’ communications as well as non-content “metadata” relating to such communications.  Second, under the National Security Letter (“NSL”) statute, the FBI can compel companies to disclose certain non-content information about their customers.

Under the new policy announced on January 27, technology companies now have two options for reporting on the number of FISA orders and NSLs they receive:  


Continue Reading Justice Department Allows More Transparency on Government Demands for Customer Information in National Security Investigations