The Commander of US Cyber Command and NSA Director Paul Nakasone Thursday urged Congress to renew Section 702 of the Foreign Services Intelligence Act. Unless Congress acts, Section 702 will expire on December 31, 2023.
Section 702 permits the US government to conduct targeted surveillance of foreign persons located outside the US without a warrant in order to acquire “foreign intelligence information.” Under Section 702, the US Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence can issue directives compelling US electronic communication service providers to provide such information.
Nakasone described how Section 702 “provide[s] critical intelligence that has kept our country and our allies safe and secure.” For example, it provides information on cybersecurity threats, ransomware attacks, counterterrorism threats, and the strategic intentions of foreign governments such as China and Russia.
Nonetheless, the reauthorisation of Section 702 is expected to spark a contentious debate. For years after 9/11, surveillance laws reliably yielded bipartisan consensus in Congress.
The boundaries of the Section 702 argument will likely become clearer later this year, when the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board release a report with recommendations to Congress and the intelligence community about how to improve privacy safeguards for the programme.