Op-Ed: Congress Should Reauthorize Section 702

December 06, 2023

December 6 Federal News Network op-ed by Letitia A. Long, INSA Chairwoman

In July 2023, the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) released a report reviewing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and provided recommendations regarding the law’s reauthorization. Section 702 authorizes “the U.S. government to compel American companies to assist in the targeting of non-U.S. persons located abroad to collect foreign intelligence information.” In some circles, the law is considered controversial, with civil liberties groups, with hyperbole, referring to it as a law enforcement collection “backdoor,” and others calling for a variety of reforms. Section 702’s targeted collection of communications inescapably results in the incidental collection of U.S. citizens’ information. However, Americans can never be the intended target of the government under Section 702.  Authorities leveraged under the auspices of Section 702 can and have been misused and misconstrued, albeit unintentionally. In response, the FBI has enacted remedial measures and safeguards for use of those authorities, which has resulted in 98% post reform compliance. The past evidence of misuse does not take away from the continued operational support Section 702 provides. And given the current era of geopolitical strategic competition, those needs continue to increase in complexity. It is an interconnected, dynamic environment with a more sophisticated and vital need for collaboration between the private and public sector. Reauthorizing Section 702 will aid in the support and protection of these critical industry and government partnerships that, in turn, promote American security and protect our national interests. That is why it is essential that Congress reauthorize Section 702 before it otherwise lapses in December — and do so in a way that preserves the law’s full efficacy.  

Read the Full Op-Ed!