Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA] Law and Legal Definition

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) is a federal law enacted as response to the exposure during multiple Committee hearings of previous abuses of the U.S. persons’ privacy rights by certain components of the national government.

According to the government, previous abuses occurred as part of the U.S. efforts to counter purported threats to national security. FISA provides judicial and congressional oversight of foreign intelligence surveillance activities while maintaining the secrecy necessary to effectively monitor national security threats. It sets out procedures for physical and electronic surveillance and collection of foreign intelligence information. FISA also established the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), a special U.S. Federal court that holds nonpublic sessions to consider issuing search warrants under FISA.