The ill-named Protect America Act of 2007, which justifies the warrantless interception of any international communications by U.S. persons without any restriction on the subsequent review and data mining of the metadata concerning those calls or the content of the communications themselves, is being considered for review by the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees to once again delve into the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and reinsert much needed privacy protections that were lacking in the last iteration.
Groups like the ACLU, People for the American Way, and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee have sent a letter requestint the following to Majority Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.
1) No amendments to FISA should be made permanent until Congress and the public receive answers about what surveillance activities have been conducted over the last six years and the legal basis for those programs.
2) Any further legislation must reiterate that FISA is the exclusive means of intelligence gathering on U.S. soil, and the legislation must include automatic consequences for violating this exclusivity.
3) Interceptions of U.S. persons’ communications within the United States should continue to be included within, and, therefore, be protected by the definition of “electronic surveillance.”
4) Collection and isolation of the particular communications sought by the government should be conducted by the telecommunications industry itself – the government should not be given direct and unfettered access to telecommunications infrastructure.
5) The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) must play a meaningful role in ensuring compliance with the law. First and foremost, interception of communications to and from the US should be authorized by the FISC. The Court must also have regular access to information about how many U.S. communications are being collected.
6) Under any new amendment to FISA established in your legislation, when the government intercepts a communication to which a person in the U.S. is a party, there should be a presumption requiring the NSA to immediately destroy that communication except in narrowly defined circumstances providing for judicial oversight.
7) Once the government has reason to believe that there is a substantial likelihood that a specific account, person or facility will have contact with someone in the United States, the government should be required to return to the FISC to obtain a court order for continued surveillance of that account, person or facility. Reliance on the FISC will help ensure the privacy of U.S. persons’ communications.
Go here to read the full letter.