Executive Branch Surveillance & Privacy

New Report Recommends Increased Oversight of the FBI’s Use of Section 702

Anna Hickey
Monday, July 31, 2023, 12:47 PM

The president’s Intelligence Board released a report examining the use of Section 702 and recommended various reforms to the program.

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On July 31, the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board released a report on reauthorizing FISA Section 702 and provided 13 recommendations. The board published its report and recommendations ahead of the authority’s December expiration date. The Biden administration has signaled it wants Congress to reauthorize Section 702 without significant reforms, but reports of improper queries have put the program’s future in jeopardy. The report includes an assessment of the effectiveness of collecting information under Section 702 and of oversight conducted by the Department of Justice.  

The board found that Section 702 was an important aspect of U.S. intelligence collection, with 59 percent of presidential daily briefs in 2022 containing information gleaned through Section 702 queries. Despite Justice Department oversight, the report noted that “there is both a need and an opportunity for the FBI to strengthen its internal compliance regime.”

The report includes 13 recommendations, including the placement of a compliance officer at headquarters and in each FBI field office and rigorous pre- approval standards prior to U.S. persons queries. The board recommended that the attorney general remove the ability of the FBI to search for evidence of non-national security crimes using Section 702 and establish a zero tolerance policy for “willful misconduct” and increased consequences for “unintentional non compliance.” 

Read the report here or below.

Anna Hickey is the associate editor for communications of Lawfare. She holds a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies: communications, legal studies, economics, and government with a minor in international studies from American University.

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