Access Now issues a “menu of options” to reform warrantless mass surveillance

Washington D.C. — Today Access Now published a series of blog posts examining Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act and offered a roadmap for reform. The law, which authorizes warrantless mass surveillance programs like Upstream and Prism, is set to expire at the end of 2017 unless Congress acts to extend it.

In a series of blog posts, Access Now examines the history of the surveillance authority in question, what is known about specific programs, the international impacts of the authority, and how it has been challenged, as well as offering a series of reforms for protecting human rights and increasing transparency.

“Section 702 is the embodiment of mass surveillance. It is unconstitutional and the programs operated under its purview violate international human rights standards. They are also damaging private business and threatening the global internet economy,” said Amie Stepanovich, U.S. Policy Manager at Access Now. “In this series of posts, we define realistic, achievable avenues for making absolutely necessary and important changes to the law to protect rights.”

The series offers an easy-to-understand explanation of 702 surveillance programs and how they have evolved as well as summaries of important legal challenges. It concludes with 11 recommendations to reform the law including limiting data retention of encrypted communications, limiting surveillance to foreign agents, preventing “about” collection of non-targets, and expanding protections for “non-U.S. persons.”

“Ultimately the only way to ‘fix’ Section 702 would be to let it expire, period. But an honest assessment of the political climate indicates that a ‘sunset’ is not likely to happen. However, meaningful reform is nevertheless possible that would protect the human rights of innocent people. We look forward to working with member of Congress throughout 2017 to take another positive step toward comprehensive surveillance reform,” added Stepanovich.