Data Foundry Signs Coalition Letter in Support of FISA Section 702 Reform

FISA section 702

Data Foundry has signed onto a coalition letter in support of section 702 reform along with Adobe, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, Mozilla and other online service providers. Section 702 is a notorious section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), as it allows for the warrantless surveillance of Americans and people around the world.

According to the Center for Democracy and Technology, Section 702 authorizes the collection, use and dissemination of electronic communications content stored by U.S. Internet service providers. What makes Section 702 the subject of much controversy is that surveillance targets aren’t always suspected of terrorism, spying or other crimes. Under Section 702, targets are simply required to be “non-U.S. persons” living abroad.

In some cases, Section 702 also permits intelligence agencies to search through communications of U.S. citizens. The section contains a “backdoor search loophole” in which the CIA and NSA can search acquired communications and data for addresses and names of U.S persons without a warrant, as long as they supply a “statement of facts showing that a query is reasonably likely to return foreign intelligence information.” Furthermore, the FBI is allowed to search these communications for information on U.S. persons without supplying such a statement.

In addition to infringing on rights to privacy, Section 702 negatively affects the U.S. technology economy. Surveillance conducted under this statute has understandably caused users abroad to lose trust and confidence in U.S. technology companies.

Section 702 is set to expire in December of this year. It will surely be renewed, so Data Foundry and other U.S. technology companies are calling for reform. The coalition letter calls for narrowing the definition of what constitutes “foreign intelligence information” to reduce the likelihood of collecting information from non-U.S. persons and U.S.  persons alike who are not suspected of wrongdoing.

The coalition letter, addressed to Representative Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, also calls for greater transparency around how the communications of U.S. persons are collected, searched and used under Section 702.

If privacy is important to you and you wish to support Section 702 reform, find and contact your state’s representative.