Section 702 authorizes warrantless surveillance and therefore may only be targeted at foreigners abroad. But the surveillance inevitably sweeps in Americans’ communications. Despite Congress’s mandate to “minimize” the retention and use of such communications, the FBI, NSA, CIA, and NCTC routinely search Section 702-acquired data for Americans’ phone calls, emails, and text messages. The FBI conducted 200,000 of these “backdoor searches” in 2022 alone and has engaged in what the FISA Court called “widespread violations” of the rules governing such searches.
This document provides an overview of the bipartisan Protect Liberty and End Warrantless Surveillance Act, which would end these civil liberties violations while leaving intact the government’s ability to monitor foreign threats under Section 702.