Trends and Predictions in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance

It is a strange time for national security. Beginning in 2013, Edward Snowden’s leaks caused the US government to significantly reduce the scope, and increase the transparency, of its foreign intelligence surveillance, while the president urged caution and restraint in response to the extraordinary rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). At the same time, US communications providers sought additional reforms and reduced their cooperation with surveillance directives in important cases. Finally, anti-surveillance politicians, on the right and left of the US political spectrum, prospered as part of a burgeoning populist movement. In Western Europe, by contrast, ISIL’s rise spurred a significant and overt expansion of surveillance authorities. European governments, particularly the United Kingdom, began making increasingly strident demands for communications data from US providers. And the European Union struck down the safe-harbor regime for trans-Atlantic data sharing on the grounds that US surveillance laws do not adequately protect privacy. Despite increased transparency, as of January 2016, the immense technical and legal complexity of US surveillance law continues to challenge informed debate across all of these fronts.

Click here to read the full publication →