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FBI Use Of Foreign-Surveillance Tool Violated Privacy Rights: FISA Court

FBI Use Of Foreign-Surveillance Tool Violated Privacy Rights: FISA Court

The FBI’s use of electronic surveillance tools violated the constitutional privacy rights of Americans whose communications were swept up in a controversial foreign intelligence program, according to a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. 

The court concluded that the FBI had been improperly searching through a database of raw intelligence for information on Americans, according to the Wall Street Journal

The ruling, made last year, was disclosed on Tuesday. 

The intelligence community disclosed Tuesday that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court last year found that the FBI’s pursuit of data about Americans ensnared in a warrantless internet-surveillance program intended to target foreign suspects may have violated the law authorizing the program, as well as the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

The court concluded that the FBI had been improperly searching a database of raw intelligence for information on Americans—raising concerns about oversight of the program, which as a spy program operates in near total secrecy. –WSJ

According to the FISA court, tens of thousands of improper searches were conducted by the Bureau in 2017 and 2018. They were deemed improper in part due to the involvement of data relating to tens of thousands of emails or phone numbers. Moreover, the FBI was potentially using the intelligence information to vet personnel and cooperating sources. Per federal law, the database can only be searched by the FBI while seeking evidence of a crime or for foreign intelligence information.  

In other cases, the court ruling reveals improper use of the database by individuals. In one case, an FBI contractor ran a query of an intelligence database—searching information on himself, other FBI personnel and his relatives, the court revealed.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Commentary: 2019 will be the year of more state control

A signature theme of the new year is the possibility of a malign confrontation between the world’s greatly enhanced capacity for electronic surveillance and the weakening of democratic control. The antidote to that risk is the democratic spirit and civil freedoms – both of which are suffering world-wide. These are not dead, but they are unwell, at times untended.

A man goes through the process of eye scanning for Aadhaar, India’s national government database, at a registration centre in New Delhi, Jan. 17, 2018. REUTERS/Saumya Khandelwal

The world’s two most populous states, China and India –together, around 37 percent of the global population – have rolled out nationwide digital systems of monitoring and classification. These combine the collection of personal information needed for fuller citizenship with the capacity for fuller surveillance and intervention by the state.

China’s system overtly seeks to monitor the behavior of its 1.4 billion people and to reward those actions the state/Communist Party defines as “good” or punish those it defines as “bad.” It is the secular alternative to religiously-guided societies, substituting the commandments of a god mediated through a priesthood with the criteria of a state whose ruling party claims virtual infallibility through its interpretation of the philosophy of Karl Marx aided by a gloss provided by its president – the “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” now written into China’s constitution.

The country’s “social credit system” combines face, voice and fingerprint recognition technology with monitoring of public and private behavior such as internet use, educational choices and social networks, as well as a huge web of paid informants who report unusual activities.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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