Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: A Sketch of Selected Issues [Updated July 7, 2008]   [open pdf - 120KB]

"The current legislative and oversight activity with respect to electronic surveillance under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) has drawn national attention to several overarching issues. This report briefly outlines three such issues and touches upon some of the perspectives reflected in the ongoing debate. These issues include the inherent and often dynamic tension between national security and civil liberties, particularly rights of privacy and free speech; the need for the intelligence community to be able to efficiently and effectively collect foreign intelligence information from the communications of foreign persons located outside the United States in a changing, fast-paced, and technologically sophisticated international environment or from United States persons abroad, and the differing approaches suggested to meet this need; and limitations of liability for those electronic communication service providers who furnish aid to the federal government in its foreign intelligence collection. Two constitutional provisions, in particular, are implicated in this debate - the Fourth and First Amendments. This report briefly examines these issues and sets them in context. The 110th Congress has been very active in developing."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL34566
Public Domain
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