HomeFocus AreasPrivacy, Security & Civil LibertiesForeign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008 authorized unprecedented surveillance of non–US persons and US persons who are believed to be outside the United States, while prohibiting the intentional targeting of persons in the US without a warrant. In September and December 2012 respectively, the US House of Representatives and Senate reauthorized the FISA Amendments Act for an additional five years through 2013. President Obama signed the extension on December 31, 2012.

The New York Times reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) abused the law to collect private e-mail messages and other information about US citizens far in excess of what the law is supposed to allow, but Congress has never required the NSA to disclose the nature and extent of these abuses.

In June 2012, ARL joined a variety of civil liberties groups in a letter to Congress (PDF) demanding that reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act be conditioned on stronger protections for privacy. Those protections were not incorporated into the reauthorized legislation.

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