by Tim Cushing at techdirt
After years of continuous, unrepentant abuse of surveillance powers, the FBI is facing the real possibility of seeing Section 702 curtailed, if not scuttled entirely.
Section 702 allows the NSA to gather foreign communications in bulk. The FBI benefits from this collection by being allowed to perform “backdoor” searches of NSA collections to obtain communications originating from US citizens and residents.
There are rules to follow, of course. But the FBI has shown little interest in adhering to these rules, just as much as the NSA has shown little interest in curtailing the amount of US persons’ communications “incidentally” collected by its dragnet.
In recent months, several Republicans have argued against a clean re-authorization of Section 702 powers, citing the FBI’s backdoor snooping on Trump administration figures, as well as certain Republicans who have outlasted Trump’s four-year stint as the supposed leader of the free world.
On top of this opposition, there’s something more bipartisan. Every time surveillance powers are up for renewal, Senator Ron Wyden and other privacy focused legislators have offered up comprehensive surveillance reform packages.
The latest effort by Wyden would create a warrant requirement for these backdoor searches by the FBI. Senate leaders tried to dodge this by slapping a clean re-auth rider on a “must pass” budget bill, but legislators found a way to keep the government funded for a little bit longer while they continue to argue over who gets what and how much of it.
Faced with the real possibility of seeing this surveillance authority heavily altered,…Continue Reading