On December 31, 2023, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) will expire unless it is reauthorized by Congress. Section 702 authorizes the U.S. government, in order to obtain foreign intelligence information, to target foreigners who are reasonably believed to be outside of the U.S. and collect their communications inside the U.S. without a warrant—even when such surveillance may involve the incidental collection of communications of U.S. persons. Privacy and civil liberties advocates have long raised concerns about the government’s ability to conduct so-called backdoor searches of U.S. person information acquired incidentally through the collection of the communications of foreigners. U.S.government officials have argued that it is imperative for Congress to reauthorize Section 702.
To talk about Section 702 and its reauthorization, Lawfare Senior Editor Stephanie Pell sat down with Travis LeBlanc, a Member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board and a partner at Cooley LLP. They discussed his concerns with the way the government may search or use U.S. person information incidentally collected under Section 702, the aspects of the government’s position on reauthorization on which he may agree, and how he believes Congress should reform Section 702.