The Biden administration is facing scrutiny over the reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), set to expire at the end of 2023, which allows for the collection of communications from non-U.S. individuals through U.S. systems. Despite emphasizing the tool’s importance for national security, the administration has been criticized for the incidental collection of Americans’ data. 

The reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is under scrutiny. Set to expire at the end of 2023, it permits the collection of communications from non-U.S. individuals via U.S. systems. The Biden administration regards it as vital for national security. However, it has faced criticism for the incidental collection of Americans’ data, prompting calls for reform.

 

Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, will host a session with civil liberties groups to discuss the act. The meeting marks the Biden administration’s first major engagement with reform advocates since expressing support for the act’s renewal in February. Groups including the ACLU and the Center for Democracy and Technology will attend. The session aims to facilitate a discussion on potential reforms to Section 702.

 

Despite the administration’s pro-reform stance, there is skepticism regarding its commitment to substantial changes. Critics argue that the government has delayed serious discussion on reforms, creating a liability for reauthorization. The administration has previously labeled a warrant requirement as “burdensome,” a stance challenged by civil liberties groups. The upcoming meeting is seen as a crucial platform to clarify the administration’s position on reforms.

 

The administration is lobbying for a “clean reauthorization” with no reforms, according to sources. This approach faces opposition in Congress, with both Republicans and Democrats demanding significant reforms. The administration finds itself in a precarious position, needing to balance national security concerns with civil liberties. The coming weeks are expected to see comprehensive reform legislation, including aspects of Section 702, being tabled.

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