Statewatch article: RefNo# 36394
USA: Declassified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions
Statewatch News Online, April 2016
"United States government agencies have long conducted warrantless secret surveillance, collecting and searching through electronic data for intelligence purposes. However, a newly declassified opinion by the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) bolsters concerns about the ways in which law enforcement agencies – such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – may also be sifting through information obtained without warrants.

These searches could have serious consequences for people charged with a crime in US courts.

The FISC opinion is one of several from 2015 that the US intelligence agencies declassified on Tuesday. The opinion deals with Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which empowers the agencies to conduct surveillance on US soil with the stated goal of “targeting” someone outside the US who is not a US citizen or permanent resident (that is, someone who is not a “US person”). Although the government characterizes Section 702 surveillance as “targeted,” we know it has used Section 702 for at least two large-scale, warrantless surveillance programs that capture both the content of communications and related data, such as the date, sender, and recipient of a message."


See: Dispatches: US Surveillance Court Opinion Shows Harm to Rights (Human Rights Watch, link):

Overview of the three judgments: Release of Three Opinions Issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (IC on the record, link)

The opinions (pdfs):

  • June 18, 2015 Memorandum Opinion associated with a pen register and trap-and-trace case
  • November 6, 2015 Memorandum Opinion and Order regarding the 2015 FISA Section 702 Certifications
  • The FISC’s December 31, 2015 Memorandum Opinion, approving the Government’s first application for orders requiring the production of call detail records under the new business records standards set forth in Sections 101 and 103 of the USA FREEDOM Act

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