Kiggans Votes to Reform and Renew Critical National Security Tool

Legislation increases privacy protections for Americans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Jen Kiggans (VA-02) voted for H.R. 7888, the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act. This important bill reforms the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to increase transparency and oversight and protect Americans’ privacy rights while preserving FISA Section 702 as a critical national security tool. In total, the legislation enacts 56 new privacy protections, which is the most extensive and transformative reform to the FBI and FISA process since the statute was first enacted.

Title Seven of FISA, which expires on April 19 of this year, provides critical tools to our national security and intelligence apparatus to help protect the homeland. In particular, Title Seven allows surveillance of, and the collection of intelligence about, non-U.S. citizens located outside the U.S. who intend harm, including terrorists, narcotraffickers, and other criminals. Terror attacks have been prevented, terrorists located, and criminals prosecuted as a result of intelligence collected under Title Seven. Despite these successes, Title Seven authorities have been abused by bad actors and are in need of reform to prevent further misuse.

“As a former Naval officer, I know that our adversaries are always looking for new ways to attack our country and gather intelligence on our citizens at home and abroad,” said Congresswoman Kiggans. “We need to have a system of deterrence, protection, and response that limits the possibility of terrorist attacks while ensuring the government doesn’t have a blank check to gather information on American citizens. I was proud to vote for this bill to provide our Intelligence Community with the tools it needs to protect our nation from foreign threats while also protecting Americans’ civil liberties.” 

BACKGROUND

FISA was initially passed in 1978 to provide congressional oversight over the United States Intelligence Community’s (IC) surveillance and information collection programs. Shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, FISA was amended to include provisions of the PATRIOT Act.

If enacted, the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act would reauthorize Title Seven of FISA for two years. Reforms in the bill include but are not limited to:

  • Reforms and limits FBI’s querying procedures for the 702 database.
  • Limits the FBI’s ability to use information gathered using Section 702.
  • Mandates regular audits of 702 targeting decisions with reports to Congress.
  • Reforms the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and requires transcripts of court proceedings to be available for review by Congressional committees and their staff.
  • Requires annual FBI reports to Congressional committees on U.S. person queries.
  • Requires the FBI to report FISC-related disciplinary actions annually to Congress and requires the FBI to establish measures to hold executive leaders accountable for violations of FISA compliance requirements.
  • Establishes criminal penalties of up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine for FISA violations.
  • Provides the FISC the authority to seek contempt for FISA violations.
  • Increases civil damages for a U.S. person harmed by unlawful surveillance in violation of FISA.

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