Intelligence Surveillance & Privacy

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Releases Report on FISA Section 702

Caleb Benjamin
Thursday, September 28, 2023, 6:00 AM
The report discusses Section 702 implementation and analyzes its value as impending expiration looms.

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On Sept. 28, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) released a new Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. PCLOB released a similar report in 2014. The report’s publication comes as significant debate surrounds Section 702 in the lead up to its December 2023 expiration date. The report details the history of Section 702, with particular emphasis on changes since 2014— “including agency-imposed policy and programmatic updates, changes imposed by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), technological changes, and new statutory mandates.” The report also describes how the government currently employs it, discusses the existing oversight and compliance mechanisms, analyzes its implications for national security, privacy, and civil liberties, and provides 19 recommendations for how it could be improved. 

In the report, PCLOB determines Section 702 “remains highly valuable to protect national security, and that it creates serious privacy and civil liberties risks.” With respect to Section 702’s future, PCLOB argues privacy and civil liberties concerns can be addressed without undermining Section 702’s value to national security. 

You can read the PCLOB report here or below:

Caleb Benjamin was Lawfare's fall 2023 editorial intern. He holds a B.A. with high honors in government from Dartmouth College.

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