Rep. Schiff Statement on FISA Court Approval of Limits on NSA Telephone Metadata Program

Washington, DC –Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee, released the following statement after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court approved President Obama’s request to require National Security Agency (NSA) officials obtain a court order first and limit the number of “hops”:

“The announcement that the FISA Court has agreed to a motion to modify the telephone metadata program is an important step on the road to reform, and consistent with the outline the President set out in his January 17th speech. By requiring a court order for each search and by limiting the number of hops allowed, the privacy of Americans will be better protected.

“Congress must act quickly to further restructure the program as the President's review group and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) have recommended. This can best be accomplished by ending bulk collection and having the phone companies hold their own data to be searched based upon a judicial finding. Such a system would provide the same basic capabilities as bulk collection, while being far more protective of our privacy. I have introduced legislation to make this change a reality and hope that the Congress and Administration can move forward without delay.”


Rep. Schiff has introduced the Telephone Metadata Reform Act, which would restructure the  telephone metadata program by specifically removing call records from the types of information the Government can obtain under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act. Instead, records would be obtained on a case by case basis from the telephone companies subject to approval by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.  Schiff has also introduced several pieces of reform legislation in addition to proposing changes to the phone metadata program. 

First, Schiff introduced the “Ending Secret Law Act” which would require the Attorney General to declassify significant Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) opinions, allowing Americans to know how the Court has interpreted the legal authorities created under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act and Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act.  Second, Schiff introduced legislation to require that the 11 judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) be nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Finally, Schiff introduced legislation to require the Privacy and Civil Liberties Board to create a pool of attorneys with experience in Fourth Amendment or national security law to argue the side of the public when the government requests a surveillance warrant in the FISA Court.