Oct. 5, 2017
Robyn Greene wrote for Lawfare on the need for Section 702 reform and the harms of unintentional compliance violations. The piece analyzed her findings from the recently released interactive timeline on The History of FISA Section 702 Compliance Violations.
Congress has only three months to complete a task that it considers necessary but that is also controversial: reauthorizing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Section 702 authorizes the government to target surveillance at non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located abroad. Such surveillance can also include their communications with non-targeted U.S. persons. Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee, as well as the Trump administration, support permanently reauthorizing the surveillance law as it currently exists. Proponents of a permanent reauthorization argue that there have been no discovered instances of willful abuse or intentional misuse. While true, this misses the different but still fundamental problem of unintentional—not willful—noncompliance.