Bryce Klehm is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying History.
On December 31, 2017, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) will be subject to congressional reauthorization. Section 702 allows the government to intercept various communications of foreigners located outside of the United States. It is mostly used by the National Security Agency (NSA) to gather signals intelligence on terrorist threats. The House Intelligence Committee claims it does not allow bulk collection targeting Americans.  The intelligence and law enforcement agencies may only use Section 702 with the approval of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The House Intelligence Committee views its as crucial in tracking and finding various terrorists, including the recently deceased ISIS leader, Haji Iman.
The controversy regarding its renewal centers on a loophole in Section 702, which allows for “backdoor” searches of electronic communications data. Using the “backdoor search” loophole, various government agencies can query the data collected under FISA and gather information about US citizens “accidentally” swept in.  For example, if the FBI is looking for evidence on a domestic target, they can search the communication data collected by the NSA. If it contains communications by a U.S. target to a foreign target, the agency is free to use the data as evidence. Indeed, the Supreme Court has recently seen an increase in the number of cases pertaining to digital privacy and Section 702.