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Press Release

House Intelligence Committee Circulating FISA Section 702 Surveillance Reform Bill; Brennan Center Reacts

The proposal is wholly inadequate to address ongoing abuses of Americans’ civil liberties.

November 15, 2023
Contact: Julian Brookes, Media Contact,, 646-292-8376

For Immediate Release
November 14, 2023

Today the news organization POLITICO published talking points from the House Intelligence Committee about a forthcoming bill that would reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) with a number of reforms. The law is set to expire in December.

Elizabeth Goitein, senior director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, had this reaction:

“This is not a serious reform proposal. It’s a set of minor tweaks masquerading as real reform. The bill’s warrant requirement would cover only the tiniest fraction of backdoor searches, and it would reach almost none of the actual abuses we’ve seen. It’s wholly inadequate to address the widespread abuses and violations of Americans’ civil liberties that are occurring under Section 702. This bill shows how out of touch the House Intelligence Committee is with the conversation about surveillance reform that’s happening in the wider Congress and among the public.” 


Section 702 allows the federal government to conduct warrantless surveillance of foreign intelligence targets overseas, but the surveillance also sweeps in large volumes of Americans’ communications, including their phone calls and text messages. Federal agencies routinely search this data without a warrant, via “backdoor searches,” and the FBI has engaged in widespread violations of the rules that apply to such searches. 

Related Brennan Center Resources