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Case Title Redacted

United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
2011 WL 10945618 (2011)


Pursuant to § 702(b) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008, 50 U.S.C. § 1801 et seq., the federal government (plaintiff), including the National Security Agency (NSA), was given permission to target individuals outside the United States suspected of terrorism or other criminal activity. The NSA could acquire electronic communications intended for or received from targeted persons. However, § 702(b) expressly prohibited the NSA from targeting an American citizen located outside of the country. The government wrote a letter dated May 2, 2011, to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), clarifying the upstream collection of transaction information. Upstream collection referred to the collection of information by tapping the United States data pipeline rather than targeting specific entities such as internet-service providers. These transactions contained either single or multiple communications (MCTs), including some that were neither “to/from” nor “about” targeted individuals. Some transactions included only domestic communications involving American citizens who posed no threat to national security. The FISC considered whether to grant the government’s request for approval of related certifications and procedures.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Bates, J.)

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