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posted by hubie on Wednesday March 15, @03:52AM   Printer-friendly
from the doing-the-right-thing-for-the-wrong-reasons dept.

FISA Oversight Board Member Says Americans Need More Privacy Protections As Congress Debates Section 702 Reauthorization:

One of the NSA's most powerful spying tools is up for renewal at the end of the year. The problem with this power isn't necessarily the NSA. I mean, the NSA has its problems, but the issue here is the domestic surveillance performed by the FBI via this executive power — something it shouldn't be doing but has almost always done.

The FBI is currently catching a lot of heat for its "backdoor" access to US persons' data and communications, something it has shown little interest in controlling or tracking. Abuse is a regular occurrence and this abuse finally received some high profile attention after Congressional Republicans got bent out of shape because some of their own people ended up under the FBI's backdoor Section 702 microscope.

[...] Section 702 allows the NSA to perform "upstream" collections of data and communications. It's foreign-facing but it also collects any communications between foreign targets and US persons. That's where the FBI steps in. It's only supposed to be able to access minimized data and communications, but these restrictions are often ignored by the agency.

[...] Specifically, the program needs constraints on the FBI's access and use of the data collected by the NSA. For years, the FBI has abused its access to perform backdoor searches of Americans' data. And for years, it has been unable to explain why it can't stop violating minimization procedures and what, if anything, this unexpected, "incidental" treasure trove contributes to its law enforcement work.

[...] To that end, LeBlanc suggests a couple of changes. First, there's the court order requirement. Then Congress could limit the NSA's haystack-building apparatus by ending its "about" variables, which allow it to also search for communications that merely mention certain individuals, rather than limiting collection to those actually communicating with the agency's targets. Finally, Congress should act to limit or forbid "batch searches" of 702 collections by the FBI, preventing it from engaging in mass violations of the Fourth Amendment courts (so far) have ruled the government should never have to answer for.

If anyone can get this done, it's Congressional leaders motivated by personal animus and political grandstanding. An entire party is, at the moment, extremely angry at the FBI. Blatant self-interest may finally achieve what privacy advocates and activists have been seeking for several years. If the ends are going to justify the means, it may as well be these ends and those means. Some concern for the little people would be nice, but as an advocate of restricted surveillance powers, I'm willing to take what I can get.

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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday March 15, @02:47PM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 15, @02:47PM (#1296252) Homepage Journal

    It's telling when one of the powerful, who supposedly benefits from all the secret nonsense, informs us that things are out of hand.

    You can tell when a bureaucracy has outlived it's intended function. The primary mission of said bureaucracy becomes the accumulation of power. The same holds true of any agency of the government. The 'intel' communities aren't going to give up the least bit of power or authority without a fight.

    If congress were worth anything, they would curtail a lot of the powers and imaginary authorities that FISA and other government agencies wield today. That, and simply eliminate the Department of Homeland Security. They serve no real purpose, merely being a new level of authority installed on top of the already existing agencies we've always had.

    Don’t confuse the news with the truth.
  • (Score: 2) by Dale on Wednesday March 15, @08:47PM

    by Dale (539) on Wednesday March 15, @08:47PM (#1296327)

    We've known for well over a decade this was being abused. Every step of the way they've said they've fixed the issues only to later show that they were still doing business as usual. The only way to deal with this is to fully cut the FBI from this information permanently with criminal penalties for anyone accessing it. That will never happen, but it is what should happen.