Democratic Senate. Ron Wyden is appalled by the level of unauthorized access revealed by court documents.
In recent years, the US Federal Police have repeatedly accessed classified databases of the US Secret Service, the NSA, without FBI authorization. These are used to spy on the communications of foreigners.
According to court documents released Friday, the FBI used the databases in 278,000 cases, mostly without authorization. He searched for names of crime victims, but also for participants in Black Lives Matter protests and storming of the Capitol in Washington.
Fort Meade, 40 kilometers north of Washington, is the headquarters of the NSA, the American secret service that monitors friends and foes around the world.File photo: AP
What kind of data is tapped?
The database contains private emails, text messages, videos, photos and other documents resulting from NSA spying on foreigners. While the FBI can only tap NSA databases during investigations related to foreign intelligence agencies, the reasoning behind Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rulings shows that they have been used in domestic cases as well.
FBI agents scoured the databases for investigations into national drug and gang cases, but also into protests after the death of African-American George Floyd and the attack on the Capitol by supporters of Donald Trump. In one case, an agent screened 19,000 donors for a congressional campaign.
Power of vision
In none of these cases was there any justification for access to FBI databases, the court said, overseeing the intelligence services. The documents were released amid congressional debate over renewing so-called Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Section 702 allows the NSA to target foreigners. When they interact with US citizens, their data and communication content is also fished. Hence the far-reaching authorization given to the NSA is often criticized in the US as well.
The Democratic Senator Ron Wyden He said the documents showed a “shocking misuse of the law”. If Section 702 is renewed, it should be reformed to “ensure better controls to end this abuse.”
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