U.S. discloses ruling last year by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that FBI’s data queries of U.S. citizens were unconstitutional.
of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s electronic surveillance activities
violated the constitutional privacy rights of Americans swept up in a
controversial foreign intelligence program, a secretive surveillance court has
ruling deals a rare rebuke to U.S. spying activities that have generally
withstood legal challenge or review.
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
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.
court ruling identifies tens of thousands of improper searches of raw
intelligence databases by the bureau in 2017 and 2018 that it deemed improper
in part because they involved data related to tens of thousands of emails or
telephone numbers—in one case, suggesting that the FBI was using the
intelligence information to vet its personnel and cooperating sources. Federal
law requires that the database only be searched by the FBI as part of seeking
evidence of a crime or for foreign intelligence information.
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
Trump administration failed to make a persuasive argument that modifying the
program to better protect the privacy of Americans would hinder the FBI’s
ability to address national-security threats, wrote U.S. District Judge James
Boasberg, who serves on the FISA Court, in the partially redacted 167-page
opinion released Tuesday.
court accordingly finds that the FBI’s querying procedures and minimization
procedures are not consistent with the requirements of the Fourth Amendment,”
Mr. Boasberg concluded.
***Dustin Volz at email@example.com and Byron Tau at firstname.lastname@example.org