Tech groups gear up for FISA surveillance fight

Lawmakers must build in protections for internet users when extending surveillance provision, groups say

A controversial provision in U.S. law that gives the National Security Agency broad authority to spy on people overseas expires at the end of the year, and six major tech trade groups are gearing up for a fight over an extension.

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act expires on Dec. 31, and Congress almost certain to extend it in some form. 

The tech trade groups, including BSA, the Consumer Technology Association, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association, are asking lawmakers to build in new privacy protections for internet users. 

"It is critical that Congress takes a balanced yet focused approach with respect to Section 702," the groups said in a letter sent to top lawmakers Wednesday. "We urge your committees to ensure that any reauthorization includes meaningful safeguards for internet users' privacy and civil liberties."

Section 702 of FISA allows the NSA to spy on the communications, including internet traffic, of people living outside the U.S. and, in some cases, their communications to people living inside the country. FISA served as the authority for the NSA's Prism internet surveillance and other programs revealed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

The trade groups didn't offer specific recommendations for privacy and civil liberties protections, although they called on Congress to hold a public debate on an extension of the provision. 

The position of the tech trade groups differs from many digital rights groups, who want Congress to either make major changes to the provision or scrap it. 

"Section 702 of FISA has allowed for mass surveillance programs ... that have been used by the U.S. government to warrantlessly collect and search the Internet communications of people all over the world," the End 207 coalition said. "Absent a full reform," Section 702 should be allowed to expire.

The NSA and other U.S. intelligence agencies have defended FISA as essential to protect the U.S. from terrorism and other security threats. NSA surveillance has helped to thwart dozens of terrorism plots, Matthew Olsen, an executive with IronNet Cybersecurity and former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said during a hearing last May.

The surveillance programs are "vital to our security," Olsen said then. The programs allow the U.S. government to "obtain critical intelligence about terrorists and other targets that it simply could not obtain by other means."

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?