Newly unsealed court documents reveal a shocking abuse of power by the FBI, who have used a digital surveillance tool improperly more than 278,000 times. The overuse of this tool resulted in the agency spying on individuals, including those involved in the race justice protests of 2020 and the January 6, 2021, storming of the US Capitol building.
FBI officials repeatedly violated their own standards when they searched through foreign intelligence for information related to the Jan. 6 insurrection and racial justice protests in 2020, according to a heavily blacked-out court order released Friday. https://t.co/vWq6zDsnnJ
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 19, 2023
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is at the center of this controversy. It allows spy agencies to collect information from a trove of electronic communications on foreign nationals outside of the US. The section expires at the end of the year, and both the Biden administration and critics have expressed diverging views over its future.
The court documents revealed the FBI’s misuse of the digital surveillance tool, which led to calls for Congress to reevaluate and change the terms of Section 702. The court order, published in April 2022, has emphasized the need for more oversight and written justifications for conducting searches.
While the FBI stated having completed internal reforms, the revelations are concerning for those who value civil liberties. As the public becomes more aware of the extent to which the government has been surveilling its citizens, we need to hold our leaders accountable. It is time to question the constitutionality of Section 702 and call for greater transparency in the government’s surveillance practices.