Policies

FISA Court: FBI Spying Violated Fourth Amendment

As disclosed this week, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2018 concluded the FBI’s spying operations violated Americans’ privacy rights.

The court ruling cited improper use of Section 702, an Internet surveillance database used primarily by the NSA.

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Section 702 is designed to collect foreign intelligence from international phone calls and emails regarding cyber threats, terrorism suspects, and other security risks.

By law, the database can be used only to find evidence of a crime or to obtain foreign intelligence. Names of American citizens caught up in search queries are generally blacked out when information is shared among federal agencies.

Privacy advocates view the system as an unnecessarily broad tool that grants access to Americans’ personal information without a warrant.

According to court documents, FBI agents used Section 702 to vet their own personnel and sources. In at least one case, an FBI contractor accessed the system to find information about his relatives and coworkers.

The investigation revealed tens of thousands of improper database queries in 2017 and 2018.

“The court accordingly finds that the FBI’s querying procedures and minimization procedures are not consistent with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment,” wrote FISA Court Judge James Boasberg.

This issue was made public Tuesday after the Trump administration failed to convince a secret appeals court that improving the database to protect Americans’ privacy would make it harder for the FBI to address national security threats.

The FBI has agreed to improve privacy protections, implement new procedures, and create a compliance review team, but the case casts doubt on whether intelligence agencies are actually complying with the privacy procedures mandated by Congress.

The disclosure “reveals serious failings in the FBI’s backdoor searches, underscoring the need for the government to seek a warrant before searching through mountains of private data on Americans,” argues Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR).

President Trump signed a six-year renewal of Section 702 in 2018.

Author’s Note: It’s not a surprise that the FBI has access to our phone numbers and emails. What is surprising is that the courts are starting to rule publicly against the agency’s surveillance methods.

Hopefully this case will lead to real change, including clear privacy laws for intelligence agencies and law enforcement.

Editor’s Note: As a former intelligence officer I can tell you that a database like this on Americans should NOT be collected. It is enormously tempting to expand the use of the data, then expand the collection slightly, and so on, until the FBI and NSA have data on every parts of our lives.

As I have said many times – It is not the function of a government to spy on its citizens.

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16 Comments on this post.
  • wayne weaver
    13 October 2019 at 3:12 pm
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    THE FBI WELL TOLD YOU SO WHAT A BUNCH OF BULLSH*T THEY WORK FOR US WELL NO F*CKING THANK ASSH*LE’S !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • wayne weaver
    13 October 2019 at 3:18 pm
    Leave a Reply

    HUNTER BIDEN JUST ASK CHINA TO RIG THIS ELECTION HE SAID I WILL STILL WORK FOR YOU IF MY ROTTEN OLD BAG OF DUST DADDY WIN THE 2020 ELECTION THAT SOUND TO MY THE F*CKING DEN SHOULD BE ALL OVER THIS TO IMPEACH THE ASSH*LE JOE BIDEN !!!!!!!!!!!! PS FIND THAT ONE AND YOU WILL SEE HE ASK THEM IN A DEMOCRATIC WAY TO HELP MY DAD STEAL LIKE THEY DO. LIKE THEY DO . STEALING IS IN BIDEN BLOOD !!!!!!!!!!!

  • unicorn76
    13 October 2019 at 3:31 pm
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    FISA has morpherf into DISA.
    D for domestic!

  • RONALD HATT
    13 October 2019 at 3:59 pm
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    EVERY SINGLE FBI PERSONNEL, THAT VIOLATED THIS LAW, MUST BE PROCESSED THROUGH COURT, & GIVEN THE ULTIMATE SENTENCE, IF FOUND GUILTY!

    THESE “PEOPLE”, ARE THE WATCH DOGS, & NOT GIVEN THE SINGULAR LIBERTY TO BREAK THE LAW! REGARDLESS OF POLITICAL AFFILIATION, RELIGION, OR POSITION IN THE GBMNT….JUSTICE…..”MUST BE SERVED”! THIS INCLUDES THE CLINTON CARTEL, DNC, CIA, FBI, NSA…..{ EVERYONE}…..GUILTY, MUST BE DEALT WITH IN EXTREME! THIS IS ‘AMERICA’….NOT SOME STINKING 3RD WORLD COUNTRY!

  • RICHARD S GIESER
    13 October 2019 at 5:18 pm
    Leave a Reply

    So many government workers and elected officials, same thing, fail to realize they are employees of We the People. In most cases they took an oath to uphold our Constitution and decided to violate that oath.

  • barto
    13 October 2019 at 5:29 pm
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    Well, let’s see some of these CORRUPT, CROOKED FBI AGENTS WHO SPIED ON TRUMP AND HIS ADMINISTRATION, FACE JUSTICE FOR IT!!

  • dan
    13 October 2019 at 5:57 pm
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    Anw WHO do you think abused this the most? Obama. He abused everything sacred to Americans. Everything in America went out of kilter after his 8 years yet there is no investigation of ALL his abused, which would put him in prison for a long time, unless he leaves the country before we can catch him. As a dark government operative, he is still pulling the strings, including, my guess, the spying on people…mark my words, it will come out down the road..

  • Diana S.
    13 October 2019 at 6:11 pm
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    Is that all their going to do. How about punishing the one’s that broke the law and the one’s that ordered them to do so.

  • 2004done
    13 October 2019 at 8:37 pm
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    It seems foolish to even comment on such an incursion, but obviously I’m decades too late to expect my objection to not be ignored. The time to be labelled “a conspiracy theorist” was BEFORE it became SOP.

  • THOMAS
    13 October 2019 at 10:28 pm
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    It was all done under the direct orders of Obama … Find that Lying Kenyan and hang the SOB from the nearest tree.

  • Jason Casteel
    14 October 2019 at 7:10 am
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    This is just one example of how our Constitution is being dismantled. This all started with President Obama. I hope that it will be ended by President Trump. Government is running out of control and if you think it will get better by voting Democrat, well you are sadly mistaken.

    Pelosi says they are there for oversight. Well tell me who is providing the oversight for Congress? Am I the only one who thinks THEY are the ones that are out of control? Could someone please enlighten me.

    As a Democrat, I have reached out to several of my leaders for some answers and got no response. My Congressman, Steven Horsford, did respond saying he knew of my concerns and was taking them into consideration. When I followed up with another question, I received another response stating that I should subscribe to his newsletter, which I do. That is pretty much a fluff piece about some of his appearances. Nothing about how he is actually doing anything. Anything meaningful at any rate.

    What is my Party doing? This is the reason that I have not cast a vote for a Democrat in well over a decade. I certainly will not in 2020.

    • Ken
      22 October 2019 at 11:53 pm
      Leave a Reply

      You are a good man. That’s what I did two years ago.

  • Hubert Parra
    14 October 2019 at 12:56 pm
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    If true, why keep this a secret from thr PUBLIC until Oct 2019?

  • Hubert Parra
    14 October 2019 at 1:00 pm
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    I left,the DEMOCRATS in the 1980s when DEMS no longer gave a damm about the WORKING class

    And Senators in my state, McCain & Deconcinni were purchased by K-St

    McCain no surprise but Deconcinni broke my faith in politicians fir sale

  • Helen Cox
    14 October 2019 at 1:50 pm
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    You cannot even trust FBI! Obama really fuck up our government. More crooks are employed under his regime

  • Arthur Nicholas
    17 October 2019 at 3:43 pm
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    Ever since Efrem Zimbalist Jr. left the FBI, it hasn’t been the same.

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