FBI Conducted Potentially Millions of Searches of Americans' Data Last Year, Report Says

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  vic-eldred  •  3 weeks ago  •  40 comments

By:   Dustin Volz (WSJ)

FBI Conducted Potentially Millions of Searches of Americans' Data Last Year, Report Says
Searches in national-security investigations came without warrants, could stoke privacy concerns in Congress

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



WASHINGTON—The Federal Bureau of Investigation performed potentially millions of searches of American electronic data last year without a warrant, U.S. intelligence officials said Friday, a revelation likely to stoke longstanding concerns in Congress about government surveillance and privacy.

An annual report published Friday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that the FBI conducted as many as 3.4 million searches of U.S. data that had been previously collected by the National Security Agency.

Senior Biden administration officials said the actual number of searches is likely far lower, citing complexities in counting and sorting foreign data from U.S. data. It couldn’t be learned from the report how many Americans’ data was examined by the FBI under the program, though officials said it was also almost certainly a much smaller number.

The report doesn’t allege the FBI was routinely searching American data improperly or illegally.

The disclosure of the searches marks the first time a U.S. intelligence agency has published an accounting, however imprecise, of the FBI’s grabs of American data through a section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the 1978 law that governs some foreign intelligence gathering. The section of FISA that authorizes the FBI’s activity, known as Section 702, is due to expire next year.

While the ODNI report doesn’t suggest systemic problems with the searches, judges have previously reprimanded the bureau for failing to comply with privacy rules. Officials said the FBI’s searches were vital to its mission to protect the U.S. from national-security threats. The frequency of other forms of national-security surveillance detailed in the annual report generally fell year over year, in some cases continuing a multiyear trend.

The 3.4 million figure “is certainly a large number,” a senior FBI official said in a press briefing Friday on the report. “I am not going to pretend that it isn’t.”

More than half of the reported searches—nearly two million—were related to an investigation into a national-security threat involving attempts by alleged Russian hackers to break into critical infrastructure in the U.S. Those searches included efforts to identify and protect potential victims of the alleged Russian campaign, senior U.S. officials said.

Officials declined to give more details on the alleged Russian threat, including whether it was linked to the Russian government or a criminal hacking group. Russia has historically  denied accusations of hacking  the U.S. or other nations.

The number of searches of American data doesn’t correspond to the number of Americans who may have had their personal information examined.

An individual’s name, telephone number, email addresses and social security number can all be searched, sometimes repeatedly, and each instance of each term would count as a search. Searches of U.S. information can pertain to data about U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and U.S. companies. And searches can yield a mix of metadata and content of collected communications.

One source of the discrepancy between the 3.4 million figure and the potentially much lower quantity of searches of Americans’ data: Sometimes FBI analysts perform large searches of hundreds or thousands of terms, and if just one term in the batch is associated with an American or U.S. entity, all the terms would be counted as a potential search of U.S. data, officials said.

The FBI conducted approximately 3.39 million searches using the identity of a presumed U.S. person from Dec. 1, 2020, to Nov. 30, 2021, according to the report. The number of searches for the previous 12-month period was about 1.3 million.

The searches described by Friday’s ODNI report concern a large repository of electronic data collected by the NSA under Section 702 of FISA.

Section 702 was passed into law in the years following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to enable the U.S. to spy on non-Americans overseas. The NSA uses the Section 702 program to collect intelligence from international phone calls and emails about terrorism suspects, cyber threats and other security risks.

Data on Americans is often vacuumed up as well, for example when a foreign spy is communicating with someone in the U.S. or when two overseas targets are talking about an American.

Some congressional lawmakers have asked the FBI to disclose how often it taps into that data to look at U.S. information, arguing that doing so amounts to a backdoor search on Americans that dispenses with requirements to obtain a warrant. U.S. intelligence officials have broadly defended Section 702 as among the most valuable national-security tools at their disposal.

Congress last  renewed Section 702 in 2018 , and then-President  Donald Trump  signed the renewal into law after openly questioning the measure over unsubstantiated concerns that it was used to spy on his presidential campaign. It is set to expire again at the end of next year, and current and former intelligence officials have said they anticipate a bruising political battle.

“For anyone outside the U.S. government, the astronomical number of FBI searches of Americans’ communications is either highly alarming or entirely meaningless,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), a privacy advocate, said. “Somewhere in all that over-counting are real numbers of FBI searches, for content and for noncontent—numbers that Congress and the American people need before Section 702 is reauthorized.”

The FBI has previously faced scrutiny for its oversight of how authorities plumb Section 702 data, including a rebuke from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2018 that found some searches violated the constitutional privacy rights of Americans.

In response,  the FBI has imposed new safeguards  meant to better ensure compliance. Those include a requirement that all searches involving 100 or more query terms get additional approvals and that analysts actively opt in to search Section 702 data, rather than passively allowing it.

Friday’s report also revealed four instances last year in which the FBI, due to specific factual considerations about a search of data, should have sought approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before performing a search and looking at the content of U.S. communications that were produced.

The FBI has never sought approval from the court since the requirement was adopted in 2018, officials said.


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Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Vic Eldred    3 weeks ago

The FBI was politicized & weaponized under Barack Obama and now has become a law unto itself.

Republicans will have to take drastic measures three years from now.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  Vic Eldred @1    3 weeks ago
Republicans will have to take drastic measures three years from now.

the remainder of that now unamerican party can bring it then...

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.1.1  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  devangelical @1.1    3 weeks ago

Just be glad I don't have such power.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1.2  devangelical  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.1.1    3 weeks ago

you wouldn't have it very long.

 
 
 
Tessylo
Professor Principal
1.2  Tessylo  replied to  Vic Eldred @1    3 weeks ago

What will those be? Endless investigations of the trumpturd investigators?

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1.2.1  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Tessylo @1.2    3 weeks ago
What will those be?

I don't have my crystal ball.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.2.2  devangelical  replied to  Vic Eldred @1.2.1    3 weeks ago

check the entire inventory...

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
2  Kavika     3 weeks ago
The report doesn’t allege the FBI was routinely searching American data improperly or illegally.

So the searches were legal, what's the problem?

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
2.1  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Kavika @2    3 weeks ago
Some congressional lawmakers have asked the FBI to disclose how often it taps into that data to look at U.S. information, arguing that doing so amounts to a backdoor search on Americans that dispenses with requirements to obtain a warrant. U.S. intelligence officials have broadly defended Section 702 as among the most valuable national-security tools at their disposal.
 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
2.1.1  Kavika   replied to  Vic Eldred @2.1    3 weeks ago

"Some congressional lawmakers''. The law goes back to 1978 and now it's a problem 44 years later?

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
2.1.2  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Kavika @2.1.1    3 weeks ago
"Some congressional lawmakers''.

Yup, that's the key phrase. Only some seem to care.


The law goes back to 1978 and now it's a problem 44 years later?

So it seems. What has the FBI done during the past decade?  While we're at it, where is the Hunter Biden laptop that the FBI took control of and sat on for 15 months?

https://thepostmillennial.com/breaking-matt-gaetz-enters-hunter-bidens-laptop-into-the-congressional-record?utm_campaign=64474

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
2.1.3  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.1.2    3 weeks ago

Said laptop is most likely at the bottom of the Potomac River.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
2.1.4  Sparty On  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @2.1.3    3 weeks ago

Maybe the Minister of Truth can sing a Princess Ariel tune for that one.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
2.1.5  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  Kavika @2.1.1    3 weeks ago
"Some congressional lawmakers''. The law goes back to 1978 and now it's a problem 44 years later?

I'm with you Kavika. This is almost nonnews. It kind of goes back to E.Hoover.

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
2.1.6  Dulay  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.1    3 weeks ago

Your block quote doesn't answer the question. 

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
2.1.7  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.1.5    3 weeks ago
This is almost nonnews.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy advocates disagree.  They have labeled this as  an invasion of privacy on an enormous scale:

Today’s report sheds light on the extent of these unconstitutional ‘backdoor searches ,’ and underscores the urgency of the problem.  It’s past time for Congress to step in to protect Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights.”

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
2.1.8  Sparty On  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2.1.7    3 weeks ago

“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

- Ben Franklin

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Freshman Expert
2.1.9  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Sparty On @2.1.8    3 weeks ago
- Ben Franklin

Sure, quote another old, dead white guy, most folks on this site are sick of hearing about them.

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
2.1.10  XXJefferson51  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2.1.9    3 weeks ago

That’s for sure…

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
2.1.11  Sparty On  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @2.1.9    3 weeks ago

My bad .... I should know better by now  ..... I sit corrected 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
2.1.12  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Dulay @2.1.6    3 weeks ago

Some are never satisfied.

 
 
 
Dulay
Professor Principal
2.1.13  Dulay  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.1.12    3 weeks ago

Some are continuously non-responsive and hence, irrelevant. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
2.1.14  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Dulay @2.1.13    3 weeks ago

You mean to the whereabouts of the Hunter Biden Laptop?

So I've noticed.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
2.2  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @2    3 weeks ago

I guess some people think the FBI should only be concerned with one side of the conversation.

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
2.2.1  cjcold  replied to  devangelical @2.2    3 weeks ago

Only if male and female agents don't fuck each other like bunnies in heat.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
3  Sparty On    3 weeks ago

Don’t worry Vic, I’m sure they were all scary Terrorism suspects.

/S

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
3.1  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Sparty On @3    3 weeks ago

Yup, James Comey taught us that.

 
 
 
bbl-1
Professor Quiet
4  bbl-1    3 weeks ago

A good idea.  Many pro-Putin and Russian sympathizers surfacing at MAGA rallies.  It would be nice to know if these folk are actively engaged with foreign intelligence services. 

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
4.1  Sparty On  replied to  bbl-1 @4    3 weeks ago

“So this is how freedom dies ...... with thunderous applause”

- Senator Padme Amidala

 
 
 
bbl-1
Professor Quiet
4.1.1  bbl-1  replied to  Sparty On @4.1    3 weeks ago

Care to expand with your own thoughts instead of a quote from someone else?  I assume the quote was a response to what I said.  Or not?

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
4.1.2  Sparty On  replied to  bbl-1 @4.1.1    3 weeks ago

You’re a smart boy, you can figure it out.

 
 
 
bbl-1
Professor Quiet
4.1.3  bbl-1  replied to  Sparty On @4.1.2    3 weeks ago

And that is your response?  

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
4.1.4  Sparty On  replied to  bbl-1 @4.1.3    3 weeks ago

Perhaps I gave you too much credit.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
4.2  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  bbl-1 @4    3 weeks ago
It would be nice to know if these folk are actively engaged with foreign intelligence services. 

I guess you made the point for me.

There it is!

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Professor Guide
5  Thrawn 31    3 weeks ago

Yawn, and? Google and Facebook are paying far more attention to your searches than the FBI. Trust me Vic, the FBI doesn’t give a shit about you. 

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
5.1  Sean Treacy  replied to  Thrawn 31 @5    3 weeks ago

Why does the left hate civil liberties now?

The turn since the 70s is amazing.  Warrantless search’s by the fbi? “Who cares” is the response you’d get from hardcore Nixonites. 

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
5.1.1  Sparty On  replied to  Sean Treacy @5.1    3 weeks ago

The crazies on the left only care about the civil liberties related to their preferred narratives.    Everyone else is screwed.

This is not going to end well if they keep it up.

Not well at all.

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
5.1.2  XXJefferson51  replied to  Sparty On @5.1.1    3 weeks ago

Sad, but all too true…

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Professor Guide
5.1.3  Thrawn 31  replied to  Sean Treacy @5.1    3 weeks ago

Shit your pants about it if you want, I have long accepted that nothing I do online is private or protected. There is no such thing as privacy on the internet and the seed itself even says that what they did isnt illegal. try and get the law changed if you want, but it really doesn’t matter. 

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
5.1.4  Sparty On  replied to  Thrawn 31 @5.1.3    3 weeks ago

I agree, profiling works.

 
 

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