The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act : An Overview of Selected Issues (RL34279) / Elizabeth B. Bazan.

Bazan, Elizabeth B. [Browse]
Washington, D.C. : Congressional Research Service, 2008.
1 online resource (14 pages)


Summary note
The current legislative and oversight activity with respect to electronic surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) has drawn national attention to several overarching issues. This report briefly outlines three such issues and touches upon some of the perspectives reflected in the ongoing debate. These issues include the inherent and often dynamic tension between national security and civil liberties, particularly rights of privacy and free speech; the need for the intelligence community to be able to efficiently and effectively collect foreign intelligence information from the communications of foreign persons located outside the United States in a changing, fast-paced, and technologically sophisticated international environment or from United States persons abroad, and the differing approaches suggested to meet this need; and limitations of liability for those electronic communication service providers who furnish aid to the federal government in its foreign intelligence collection. Two constitutional provisions, in particular, are implicated in this debate-the Fourth and First Amendments. This report briefly examines these issues and sets them in context. The 110th Congress has been very active in developing and considering measures to amend FISA to address these issues. On August 5, 2007, the Protect America Act, P.L. 110-55, was enacted into law. It expired on February 16, 2008, after passage of a 15-day extension to its original sunset date, P.L. 110-182. On November 15, 2007, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3773, the RESTORE Act of 2007. On February 12, 2008, the Senate passed S. 2248, as amended, then struck all but the enacting clause of H.R. 3773, and inserted the text of S. 2248, as amended, in its stead. On March 14, 2008, the House passed an amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 3773. After months of intensive negotiations, on June 19, 2008, a compromise bill, H.R. 6304, was introduced in the House. It was passed by the House the following day. On June 26, 2008, a cloture motion on the measure was presented in the Senate. Further activity on H.R. 6304 is anticipated after the Senate returns from the July 4th recess. Each of these bills differs somewhat in content and approach from one another. This report also briefly explores legislative responses to the issues addressed. It will be updated as needed.
Source of description
Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page (Congressional Research Service, viewed June 9, 2023).
  • Introduction
  • Tension Between National Security and Civil Liberties
  • Collection of Foreign Intelligence Information from Foreign Persons and United States Persons Located Abroad
  • Legislative Response: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance of Foreign Persons Abroad
  • Legislative Response: Foreign Intelligence Surveillance of U.S. Persons Outside the United States
  • Limitations on Liability for Telecommunications Providers Furnishing Aid to the Government
  • Legislative Response.
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