Reauthorization of H.R. 7888 carries substantial implications for Tribal Sovereignty

EJ John

Sr. Policy Research Analyst

Earlier this month, H.R. 7888 was introduced to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA). This bill includes an amendment that expands FISA’s current definition of an “Electronic Communication Service Provider” beyond a traditional Internet Service Provider to any service provider with access to electronic communication equipment. This expansion has significant implications for Tribal Nations and tribal entities that work in the digital space.

FISA is meant to be used to gather information on foreign adversaries, and the data can be collected without a court order. However, the collection of electronic information could occur on electronic communication equipment located within the US, which puts the information of everyone using the same US-based equipment at risk. Although the bill provides exceptions for a few entities, it does not mention exemptions for tribal entities. Tribes that operate their own ISPs, data centers, and other digital ventures may be subject to this new proposed definition, and that carries substantial implications for Tribal Sovereignty.

H.R. 7888 passed in the US House of Representatives and is now awaiting a vote in the U.S. Senate. Tribes and tribal entities who have questions or concerns about the bill or are looking for clarification on its impact on Tribal Sovereignty should make sure to reach out to their Senators to give their input on this pending legislation.