Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) gives intelligence gathering agencies the ability to collect the communications of foreign persons without a warrant. The intelligence community has used back door searches to obtain Americans’ private communications. Section 301 of the USA FREEDOM Act would close this loophole.

Section 301 of the USA FREEDOM Act: Clarification on prohibition on searching of collections of communications to conduct warrantless searches for the communications of United States persons. From Section-by-Section Analysis

Under Section 702 of FISA, which was enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), the government can wiretap foreigners outside the United States without a court order. This section closes NSA’s “back door” access to Americans’ communications by requiring a court order under FISA before the government can search for the communications of Americans in data collected without individualized warrants under Section 702. It contains an emergency exception like those found elsewhere in FISA.

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner: “Section 215 of the Patriot Act has been misinterpreted to justify bulk collection. Similarly, we now know Section 702 of FISA has been improperly used to obtain the content of Americans’ private communications without a warrant, which is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment and a blatant violation of Americans’ civil liberties.

“The USA FREEDOM Act ends bulk collection, closes the loophole being exploited to access the communications of Americans and strikes the proper balance between privacy and security—the Intelligence Committee’s FISA Transparency and Modernization Act does not.”