The US government has finally released previously classified rulings from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), which have revealed how the secretive court interprets the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a law that allows mass surveillance of foreigners.
FISC was created by Congress in 1978 to act as a warrant court that approved the surveillance of individual foreign targets. However, after 9/11, the court’s role expanded and it started approving mass surveillance programs, some of which illegally collected data of foreigners and US citizens.
In 2015, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, which required the government to make public all significant rulings by the FISC. However, the executive branch argued that the USA Freedom Act did not apply to FISC rulings issued before the passing of the law in 2015.
Due to this lack of transparency, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) sued under the Freedom of Information Act to force the government to disclose all significant FISC rulings. The lawsuit resulted in the government releasing more than 70 FISC rulings that were previously kept secret.