The United States government is using warrant less searches along with secret requests for information, and these requests and searches keep growing in numbers.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a transparency report this week showing the number of warrant less searches has doubled between 2013 and 2015. The intelligence community vacuums up millions of communications from Internet foundations running in and out of the country, and information from Google, Apple and Microsoft, just to name a few. The NSA stores this information, in what is known as the 702 database.
Being authorized by Section 702, the NSA targets each non U.S. person believe to possess, or likely to communicate or receive foreign intelligence information. The DNI report shows the number of queries by the NSA using search terms involving a U.S. person started at 2,100 in 2013, and went to 4,672 in 2015.
“The number of back door searches doubling since last reported shows that warrant less Section 702 surveillance is a significant and growing problem for Americans,” Jake Laperruque a privacy advocate working at the Constitution Project told the Intercept.
Not only all this, but the searches on American’s meta data jumped up as well. This went from 9,500 in 2013, to a reported 23,800 in 2015. These numbers do not include searches done by the CIA or other government organizations, just the NSA alone. Even though the 702 database was created to track foreign security risk, the FISC ruled that the database is only incidentally collected information on American citizens, and th FBI is allowed to conduct an unlimited amount of warrant less searches.
The Freedom Act surveillance corrections passed in 2015 exempted the FBI from full disclosure of how many searches the 702 database has, and the agency has never released even one estimate.
“There is every reason to believe the number of FBI searches exceeds those of the CIA and NSA,” Project on Government Oversight wrote last year.
People like Senator Ron Wyden have denounced these back door searches of Americans.
“If intelligence officials are deliberately searching for and reading the communications of specific Americans, the Constitution requires a warrant,” Wyden said.
For years the lawmakers have been asking for details about FBI activities, but have yet to see anything. Its said that next year the surveillance programs authorized under Section 702, specifically PRISM and Upstream are up to be renewed by congress, while 14 members of the House Committee sent a letter to James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence asking for an estimate.
“To many, what has been made legal is a severe violation of American’s constitutional rights, from the right to privacy to the requirement for due cause for government intrusion tot he Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure,” InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman writes.
“There ae serious ongoing problems with government hacking that this change will only exacerbate. So much of this is in the dark,” Chief Technologist for the Center for Democracy and Technology Joseph Lorenzo Hall told TechCrunch.