August 03, 2017

Wyden Suggests Ways to Estimate Americans Swept Up Under Foreign Surveillance Program

Wyden Renews Call to Estimate Impact of FISA 702 on Innocent Americans

Washington, D.C. – Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today asked Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to consider new ways to estimate the number of Americans swept up under a surveillance program intended to target foreigners. Wyden has sought that estimate since 2011, but Coats recently announced the administration was abandoning efforts to determine how many Americans are caught up in foreign intelligence dragnets.

In a letter to Coats, Wyden asked the executive branch to estimate the number of people in the United States caught up under Section 702, rather than number of U.S. persons, as an alternative way to estimate the impact on Americans.

“Whatever challenges there may be to arriving at an estimate of U.S. persons whose communications have been collected under Section 702, those challenges may not apply equally to persons located in the United States,” Wyden wrote. “I believe that the impact of Section 702 on persons inside the United States would constitute a ‘relevant metric,’ and that your conclusion that an estimate is infeasible can and should be revisited on that basis.”

Read the full letter here.

Wyden also sent a classified letter to Coats.

Wyden and former Sen. Mark Udall originally asked for this number in 2011. He renewed his request in 2012, and pushed the executive branch to reveal in 2014 that the NSA, CIA and FBI search for Americans’ communications without obtaining a warrant.

Wyden has spent six years seeking how many law-abiding Americans have their calls and messages swept up under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.