According to Pew Research, more than 50% of Americans have decided against using a product or service due to privacy concerns. That same 50% will likely be concerned about this…
A recent report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence shows an alarmingly high number of FBI searches —3.4 million —of Americans and our data in 2021. Many of these searches were reportedly conducted without a warrant, raising privacy concerns.
The 3.4 million figure “is certainly a large number,” an FBI official said in regards to the report in a press briefing last week. “I am not going to pretend that it isn’t.”
“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,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Nearly half of the searches conducted were supposedly relevant to national security risks; some were said to be connected to Russia, although the FBI refused to go into more detail.
“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,” WSJ continues. “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.”
But oftentimes, the data of American citizens gets captured as well —without a warrant.
“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-OR) says. “Somewhere in all that overcounting are real numbers of FBI searches, for content and for nonconsent—numbers that Congress and the American people need before Section 702 is reauthorized.”
This report couldn’t have come at a worse time, with many Americans concerned about security and privacy in the wake of the Biden Administration’s establishment of the Disinformation Governance Board.
And that announcement went over like a lead balloon.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who oversees the disinformation board, says that the new department won’t spy on everyday Americans.
Sure, Mayorkas —but if some data happens to get swept up in a foreign investigation…?