FISA: 215 Collection

Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act amends the 1978-era Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to allow FBI to apply for an order to acquire “tangible things” in the service of an investigation on terrorism or counterintelligence. Although Section 215 was initially used by the FBI to acquire particular items related to an individual investigation, the Snowden revelations revealed that NSA was also using the statute to justify bulk collection of domestic metadata. Court challenges followed, with federal judges across the country deeply divided on both statutory and constitutional grounds. In 2015, these questions became largely moot when the USA Freedom Act banned bulk collection under section 215 through a requirement that any requests for phone records be based on a “specific selection term.”


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FISA: 215 Collection

Brett Kavanaugh’s Internet

When the Supreme Court first encountered the internet, the justices expressed wonder at its potential. “It is ‘no exaggeration to conclude that the content on the Internet is as diverse as human thought,’” marveled Justice John Paul Stevens, then the court’s oldest member. The court decided that, unlike the more regulated television and broadcast media, this “‘unique and wholly new medium of worldwide human communication” was entitled to full First Amendment protection.


ODNI's 2016 Transparency Report: A Summary

On Tuesday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released its fourth Annual Statistical Transparency Report relating to the use of national security authorities. The report is based on a mix of statutory requirements under the USA FREEDOM Act of 2015 and the Intelligence Community’s internal guidance document entitled Principles of Intelligence Transparency.

FISA: 215 Collection

DOJ OIG Report on Use of Section 215

The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Justice has released an unclassified version of a report on the FBI's use of Section 215 from 2012-2014. The classified version of the report was provided to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, House Committee on the Judiciary, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in June 2016 as required under the USA FREEDOM Act, along with select members of Congressional oversight committees.


ODNI Releases Three FISC Opinions

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released three redacted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinions (FISC) yesterday, respectively on a pen register and trap-and-trace case, Section 702 certifications, and the Government's first application for orders requiring the production of call records under the USA FREEDOM Act.


PCLOB Releases Recommendations Assessment Report

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) released its most recent Recommendations Assessment Report on Friday, February 5th. The Recommendations Assessment Report follows up on the 22 recommendations made by the board in its 2014 reports on the government's Section 215 and Section 702 surveillance programs. Those reports aimed to "ensure that these programs appropriately balance national security with privacy and civil liberties."

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