Senate Intelligence Committee Approves FISA Improvements Act

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on November 7, 2013

Increases privacy protections, oversight, transparency of critical intelligence programs: The Senate Intelligence Committee [October 31, 2013] approved the FISA Improvements Act by a vote of 11-4. The bipartisan legislation increases privacy protections and public transparency of the National Security Agency call-records program in several ways, while preserving the operational effectiveness and flexibility of this vital national security program. The legislation:

  • Prohibits the collection of bulk communication records under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act except under specific procedures and restrictions set forth in the bill;
  • Establishes criminal penalties of up to 10 years in prison for intentional unauthorized access to data acquired under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the United States;
  • Prohibits the bulk collection of the content of communications under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act;
  • Requires an annual public report of the total number of queries of NSA’s telephone metadata database and the number of times the program leads to an FBI investigation or probable cause order;
  • Requires that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court impose limits on the number of people at NSA who may authorize or query the call-records database;
  • Prohibits any review of bulk communication records acquired under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act unless there is a “reasonable articulable suspicion” of association with international terrorism;
  • Requires that records of each “reasonable articulable suspicion” determination be provided to the FISA Court for review. If the Court disapproves, it may order the destruction of any records produced;
  • Mandates the FISA Court impose a limit on the number of contacts (i.e., “hops”) an analyst can receive in response to a query of bulk communication records acquired under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act; and
  • Imposes a five-year limit on the retention of bulk communication records acquired under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act and requires Attorney General approval to query records that are older than three years.”

Previous post:

Next post: