The USA Freedom Act

The USA Freedom Act is a federal law that was enacted in 2015 in response to revelations about the National Security Agency's (NSA) domestic surveillance programs. The law was designed to reform the government's surveillance powers and increase transparency and oversight in the intelligence community.

The USA Freedom Act is a federal law that was enacted in 2015 in response to revelations about the National Security Agency's (NSA) domestic surveillance programs. The law was designed to reform the government's surveillance powers and increase transparency and oversight in the intelligence community.

The USA Freedom Act was passed in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, which revealed the extent of the NSA's surveillance activities, including the collection and storage of the telephone records of millions of Americans under a program known as the "metadata program." The revelations sparked widespread concern about the government's surveillance powers and the potential for abuse, and they led to calls for reform.

The USA Freedom Act made several significant changes to the government's surveillance powers and the oversight of those powers. Some of the key provisions of the act include:

  • Ending the NSA's metadata program: The USA Freedom Act ended the NSA's metadata program, which had been authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and had allowed the government to collect and store the telephone records of millions of Americans. The act put in place new limits on the government's ability to collect and retain telephone metadata, requiring the government to obtain a warrant from the FISA court before collecting such data.

  • Establishing a new process for selecting FISA court judges: The USA Freedom Act established a new process for selecting judges to serve on the FISA court, which is responsible for issuing warrants for electronic surveillance for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence information. The act required the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to establish a selection committee to recommend potential judges to the President, who would then appoint the judges with the advice and consent of the Senate.

  • Requiring the government to disclose certain FISA court opinions: The USA Freedom Act required the government to disclose certain FISA court opinions that contain significant legal interpretations or that involve a novel or significant interpretation of the law. The act also required the government to provide a summary of such opinions to Congress and to make them available to the public.

  • Establishing the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Civil Liberties and Privacy Office: The USA Freedom Act established the ODNI Civil Liberties and Privacy Office, which is responsible for overseeing the intelligence community's compliance with civil liberties and privacy laws and for advising the Director of National Intelligence on such matters.

  • Establishing the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB): The USA Freedom Act established the PCLOB, which is an independent, bipartisan agency that is responsible for reviewing and assessing the impact of intelligence programs and activities on privacy and civil liberties. The PCLOB is tasked with ensuring that the government's intelligence activities are consistent with the law and with the values of the Constitution.

Since the passage of the USA Freedom Act, there have been several amendments to the legislation. In 2018, Congress passed the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act, which reauthorized the expiring provisions of the USA Freedom Act and made some additional reforms to the government's surveillance powers. Some of the key provisions of the reauthorization act include:

  • Requiring the government to obtain a warrant before accessing certain business records: The USA Freedom Reauthorization Act amended the USA Freedom Act to require the government to obtain a warrant from the FISA court before accessing certain business records, including library records, medical records, and firearms records.

  • Requiring the government to report on its use of certain surveillance authorities: The USA Freedom Reauthorization Act required the government to report to Congress on its use of certain surveillance authorities, including Section 702 of FISA, which allows the government to target the communications of non-U.S. persons outside the United States for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence information.

  • Establishing a new process for appointing amicus was passed in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations, which revealed the extent of the NSA's surveillance activities, including the collection and storage of the telephone records of millions of Americans under a program known as the "metadata program." The revelations sparked widespread concern about the government's surveillance powers and the potential for abuse, and they led to calls for reform.

The USA Freedom Act made several significant changes to the government's surveillance powers and the oversight of those powers. Some of the key provisions of the act include:

  • Ending the NSA's metadata program: The USA Freedom Act ended the NSA's metadata program, which had been authorized under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and had allowed the government to collect and store the telephone records of millions of Americans. The act put in place new limits on the government's ability to collect and retain telephone metadata, requiring the government to obtain a warrant from the FISA court before collecting such data.

  • Establishing a new process for selecting FISA court judges: The USA Freedom Act established a new process for selecting judges to serve on the FISA court, which is responsible for issuing warrants for electronic surveillance for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence information. The act required the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to establish a selection committee to recommend potential judges to the President, who would then appoint the judges with the advice and consent of the Senate.

  • Requiring the government to disclose certain FISA court opinions: The USA Freedom Act required the government to disclose certain FISA court opinions that contain significant legal interpretations or that involve a novel or significant interpretation of the law. The act also required the government to provide a summary of such opinions to Congress and to make them available to the public.

  • Establishing the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Civil Liberties and Privacy Office: The USA Freedom Act established the ODNI Civil Liberties and Privacy Office, which is responsible for overseeing the intelligence community's compliance with civil liberties and privacy laws and for advising the Director of National Intelligence on such matters.

  • Establishing the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB): The USA Freedom Act established the PCLOB, which is an independent, bipartisan agency that is responsible for reviewing and assessing the impact of intelligence programs and activities on privacy and civil liberties. The PCLOB is tasked with ensuring that the government's intelligence activities are consistent with the law and with the values of the Constitution.

Since the passage of the USA Freedom Act, there have been several amendments to the legislation. In 2018, Congress passed the USA Freedom Reauthorization Act, which reauthorized the expiring provisions of the USA Freedom Act and made some additional reforms to the government's surveillance powers. Some of the key provisions of the reauthorization act include:

  • Requiring the government to obtain a warrant before accessing certain business records: The USA Freedom Reauthorization Act amended the USA Freedom Act to require the government to obtain a warrant from the FISA court before accessing certain business records, including library records, medical records, and firearms records.

  • Requiring the government to report on its use of certain surveillance authorities: The USA Freedom Reauthorization Act required the government to report to Congress on its use of certain surveillance authorities, including Section 702 of FISA, which allows the government to target the communications of non-U.S. persons outside the United States for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence information.

  • Establishing a new process for appointing amicus