Summary: H.R.6172 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed Senate (05/14/2020)

USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020

This bill reauthorizes through December 1, 2023, provisions related to intelligence gathering under the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA) and amends FISA-related provisions.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation may not seek certain FISA-authorized orders to obtain (1) call detail records on an ongoing basis, (2) a tangible thing where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and a warrant would typically be required, or (3) cellular or GPS location information.

A tangible thing obtained under FISA may be retained for no longer than five years except in certain instances, such as when a tangible thing is reasonably believed to be evidence of a crime. If the government intends to use information from a tangible thing obtained under FISA in a trial or other proceeding, it shall be treated as information obtained through electronic surveillance, unless a U.S. authority finds that notifying the person targeted would harm national security. (There are existing protections related to electronic surveillance, such as allowing the targeted person to move to suppress the disclosure of the obtained information in court.)

In applications for certain FISA-authorized orders to obtain information or conduct surveillance, the applicant must certify that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has received any information that might raise doubts about the application. The bill imposes additional requirements on FISA-authorized orders targeting (1) a U.S. person, or (2) a federal elected official or candidate.

The bill increases criminal penalties for violations related to electronic surveillance conducted under color of law or false statements made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court). A U.S. government employee, officer, or contractor who engages in deliberate misconduct before a FISA court shall be subject to adverse actions, such as removal from the individual's position.

The bill broadens the criteria for when a FISA court decision shall be declassified and requires the declassification review and release of such opinions within 180 days of an opinion being issued.

The bill broadens the FISA court's authority to appoint an amicus curiae (an outside party that assists in consideration of a case) and expands such amici's powers, such as the power to ask the court to review a decision. An amicus may also seek the court's permission to address any novel or significant privacy or civil liberties issues arising in a case, even if the court did not ask for assistance on that issue. The FISA court may employ legal advisors to assist in considering any matter.

Each agency that submits applications to the FISA court shall appoint an officer responsible for compliance with FISA requirements.

An application for a FISA court order shall include all information in the government's possession that (1) is material to a ruling on the application, including any exculpatory information; or (2) calls into question the accuracy of the application or the accuracy of an assessment in the application, or otherwise raises doubts about a finding that is a required part of the application.

An application for a FISA court order shall include (1) a description of the procedures in place to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the application, and (2) a certification by the applying officer (or designee) that the officer or designee has reviewed the application and accompanying documentation for accuracy and completeness. A judge may not enter a FISA court order unless the described accuracy and completeness procedures comply with requirements prescribed by this bill.