Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (“FISA” Pub.L. 95–511, 92 Stat. 1783, 50 U.S.C. ch. 36) is a United States federal law which establishes procedures for the physical and electronic surveillance and collection of “foreign intelligence information” between “foreign powers” and “agents of foreign powers” suspected of espionage or terrorism.

The Act created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to oversee requests for surveillance warrants by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. It has been repeatedly amended since the September 11 attacks.

The Act came into public prominence in December 2005 following publication by The New York Times of an article that described a program of warrantless domestic wiretapping ordered by the Bush administration and carried out by the National Security Agency since 2002; a subsequent Bloomberg article suggested that this may have already begun by June 2000.