The last several weeks have seen disclosures of information relating to two classified intelligence community programs conducted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). These programs – conducted with the approval of the FISA Court, authorized by Congress, and carefully overseen by Congress and the Executive Branch – seek to keep the U.S. and their allies safe from threats.
On July 19, the Brookings Institution hosted Robert S. Litt, General Counsel to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, for an address on privacy, technology, and security. Litt discussed the laws that govern intelligence collection activities, how to ensure security while protecting privacy and constitutional rights, and how some of these laws are put into practice, in an era when personal data is increasingly handed off to third parties. In discussing the precautions that the intelligence community takes to protect citizens’ privacy, Litt explained the legality and limitations of traditional FISA collection, the FISA business records provision, and Section 702---the part of the statute that facilitates surveillance of non-U.S. persons believed to be abroad.
Wells C. Bennett, Fellow in National Security Law and Managing Editor of Lawfare, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion.
Robert S. Litt addresses the crowd at the Brookings Institution on July 19, 2013. Photo by Paul Morigi.