4.17.24 / Massoud Amin / Think Tank Advisor Emeritus

What is in the News affecting our security? The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) permits government surveillance of foreigners without court approval, even those suspected of communication with U.S. citizens, raising concerns about civil liberties. A bill renewing a national security surveillance program faced bipartisan opposition. The Republican-led House blocked the bill, leaving its progress uncertain before the April 19 deadline. The house vote count was 228 in favor and 193 against, blocking the bill’s progress [https://lnkd.in/g_i35-sP].

While the FBI and the Department of Justice correctly argue for the program’s necessity in combating various threats, including drug smuggling and cybersecurity risks, recent political tensions have exacerbated the debate. President Trump’s public opposition, fueled by his previous experiences with intelligence agencies, adds complexity to the discourse.

Under FISA, surveillance of U.S. citizens mandates adherence to legal procedures and oversight to uphold Fourth Amendment rights. Although citizens can be monitored if suspected of foreign espionage or terrorism, stringent measures are in place to ensure constitutional protections are respected, minimizing unwarranted data collection.

FISA, first created and enacted in 1978, regulates surveillance to gather foreign intelligence.

A timeline of FISA after 1978:

 • 2001: Following the September 11 attacks, FISA undergoes revisions with the passing of the USA PATRIOT Act, expanding government surveillance powers.

 • 2005: The New York Times reveals the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, sparking debates about surveillance and civil liberties.

 • 2008: FISA Amendments Act is passed, providing legal immunity to telecommunications companies that cooperated with warrantless wiretapping programs.

 • 2013: Edward Snowden leaks classified documents revealing the extent of NSA surveillance programs, including bulk collection of phone metadata under FISA.

 • 2015: The USA FREEDOM Act is signed into law, ending bulk collection of domestic phone metadata and introducing other reforms to FISA.

 • 2017: Section 702 of FISA is reauthorized for six years, despite concerns about privacy and surveillance abuses.

 • 2018: President Trump signs the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act, extending Section 702 surveillance authorities.

 • 2019: The USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020 is signed into law, reauthorizing several surveillance provisions under FISA.

 • 2020: The USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act expires, leading to debates about the future of FISA and government surveillance practices.

 • 2021: Efforts to reform or reauthorize FISA face challenges amid concerns about civil liberties and government surveillance.

You can connect with Massoud Amin here at the Cyber Security Summit at https://www.cybersecuritysummit.org/speakers/dr-massoud-amin-2/   and on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/massoudamin/