Oversight of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)

The Board is conducting oversight of the FISA process, the law’s use for counterterrorism, challenges for privacy and civil liberties, and proposals for changes to the law. As part of this oversight, the Board held a virtual public forum and asked a diverse range of experts to provide their views.  

Statements were submitted by:

Stewart Baker

Former General Counsel, National Security Agency, former Assistant Secretary for Policy, Department of Homeland Security. Currently practicing law at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Washington DC;

Sharon Bradford Franklin

Policy Director, New America's Open Technology Institute; 

David Kris

Founder of Culper Partners LLC, former Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Associate Deputy Attorney General, and trial attorney at the Department of Justice;

Peter Margulies

Professor of Law, Roger Williams University School of Law (Rhode Island); B.A., Colgate; J.D., Columbia Law School;

Jake Laperruque

Senior Counsel for the Constitution Project at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

The Board reviewed the NSA’s collection of call detail records under the USA Freedom Act of 2015, including the program’s operational use and challenges encountered in implementing the program. The Board issued a report in February 2020.

The Board is conducting ongoing oversight of additional authorities extended by the USA Freedom Act of 2015, including the FBI’s collection of business records and the use of roving wiretaps under FISA.

Facial Recognition and Other Biometric Technologies in Aviation Security

The Board is reviewing how biometric technologies are used to verify identity at each phase of an air journey, considering both operational benefits and privacy and civil liberties concerns.

The Board observed an airport facial recognition pilot program as part of its biometrics in aviation security oversight project.

FBI Searches of Data from FISA Section 702

The Board is reviewing the FBI’s querying of data obtained pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and related authorities. The review will also examine the procedures and technology used to record queries and ensure compliance with applicable rules.

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FBI Collection of Open-Source Data

The Board is reviewing the FBI’s acquisition and use of data from open-source or commercially available sources as part of its efforts to protect the nation against terrorism, as well as the legal, policy, and technological safeguards in place to protect privacy and civil liberties.

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Counterterrorism Activities under E.O. 12333

In 2015, the Board announced that it would review counterterrorism-related activities conducted pursuant to Executive Order 12333, including three classified “deep dive” reviews of specific activities conducted by the CIA and NSA. One of those deep dives was completed in 2016.

Two deep dives remain active:

NSA Deep Dive – XKEYSCOREThe Board is examining the National Security Agency’s use of XKEYSCORE as an analytic tool for counterterrorism purposes and its implications for privacy and civil liberties.

CIA Deep Dive. The Board is reviewing a classified counterterrorism related activity conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency and that activity’s implications for privacy and civil liberties.

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The Terrorist Watchlist

The Board is reviewing the operation of the Terrorist Screening Database, which contains information on known and suspected terrorists.

Back view of cyber terrorist at computer screens.

The Board Concludes Review of Treasury's Terrorist Finance Tracking Program

The Board has concluded its review of the Treasury Department’s Terrorist Finance Tracking Program and its implications for privacy and civil liberties.

Airline Passenger Data

The Board is conducting an oversight project related to the use of airline Passenger Name Records.

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FISA Section 702

The Board maintains ongoing oversight of the intelligence community’s implementation of Section 702, the subject of a Board report in 2014.

CCTV camera, modern era anti-terrorist electronic surveillance

The Board maintains ongoing oversight of the intelligence community’s implementation of the recommendations in the Board’s report on Presidential Policy Directive 28.

The Board reviews and has periodically issued reports providing an update on the status of recommendations made in the Board’s past reports on FISA Section 702, Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, and Presidential Policy Directive 28.

Reports by Privacy & Civil Liberty Officers

The Board receives and reviews reports from Civil Liberties and Privacy Officers under Section 803 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007.

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Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity

The Board receives and reviews reports under Executive Order 13636, Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity.

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