Trump Administration wants to renew FISA Section 702; keep Snowden revealed NSA surveillance programs PRISM and Upstream

Posted on Mar 3, 2017 by Caleb Chen
nsa fisa section 702

Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 2008 has been the “legal” backbone of NSA’s mass internet surveillance programs for almost the entirety of the last decade. Section 702 of FISA authorizes the ongoing NSA spy programs PRISM and Upstream, and the extent of the privacy violations were revealed by the Snowden leaks. Under PRISM, the NSA works with large tech companies such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Apple to intercept and store all messaging data going to or from foreign targets. Under Upstream, the NSA works with internet service providers (ISPs) and other Internet infrastructure to intercept and store data as it travels upstream through the Internet to its destination. All communications are stored for a minimum of 5 years; encrypted communications can be kept indefinitely. In practice, NSA spy programs collect information on domestic targets, as well. What’s more, the FBI and CIA can access all of this information without a warrant, and reports suggest that they do often access it. These warrantless backdoor searches need to be stopped.

FISA Section 702 should not be reauthorized

Section 702 of FISA is set to expire at the end of 2017 and this year, Congress will get to decide the future of these NSA spy programs… Human Rights Watch (HRW) has some strong and valid requests for Congress, the two main ones are:

1. “An end to indiscriminate “upstream” scanning.”

2. “A prohibition on warrantless backdoor searches of Section 702 data.”

Whether or not they’ll be heeded remains to be seen. According to an anonymous source at the White House, the Trump Administration is dead set on maintaining the privacy violations under PRISM and Upstream. The source told Reuters:

We support the clean reauthorization, and the administration believes it’s necessary to protect the security of the nation.

HRW has also put out a fact sheet about the FISA Section 702 privacy violations, noting that the NSA still hasn’t revealed the number of Americans whose communications have been swept up by PRISM and Upstream and is available for warrantless searches.

Dan Coats, the Trump Administration’s pick for National Security Director, has pretty much signaled that these numbers will never be revealed, despite increasing Congressional demands for this basic transparency. Coats has even gone so far as to refer to FISA Section 702 enabled surveillance programs to be the “crown jewels” of the international intelligence community.

If you are in the US the thought of unconstitutional Internet surveillance makes your blood boil, please reach out to Congress and let them know to “pull the plug on Internet spying programs.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has a handy page with information that makes it easy to do so.

Comments are closed.


  1. Bob

    Our government has proven it cannot be trusted with this resource. They have lied about it’s purpose (meta data only stored) … Prism is a collection of fiber optic splitters that duplicate all data on the circuit. Routers have to convert the light pulses into electronic data form before metadata can be separated from content .. they are getting it all and mis-using it without appropriate warrants or legal authority. Congress needs to end the program to protect citizens from the deep state actors working under political ideologies. When these individuals are caught, maximum penalties need to apply.

    7 years ago
  2. Neil Nelson

    I just received the email ‘The NSA can (still) read your emails.’ and though I am sympathetic to the complaints we do need proper surveillance to help safeguard the public while balancing that against a real need for personal privacy. Merely abolishing 702 goes too far in one direction while keeping 702 without the reasonable corrections as given in the complaints is also a problem.

    We need is an effort to correct 702, not merely to abolish it.

    7 years ago
  3. Anime TeeShirts

    Sort of like the US gov opening and reading your sealed mail. I guess no one really wants to realize just how insane all these programs are. They, iin my opinion, must have a warrant specific to one person, or one IP, or one MAC addy. Something that isn’t given so easily, but, if there is evidence to warrant such spying, then fine.

    7 years ago