An unnamed FBI analyst conducted a warrantless search of a U.S. senator in a foreign surveillance database. Section 702 grants the Intelligence powers to surveil foreign actors but the FBI had improperly used the database more than 278,000 times since 2008.On July 21, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) revealed that an FBI analyst conducted four searches of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act’s Section 702 using the last names of an unnamed U.S. senator and an unnamed state senator in June 2022.
According to Whedon, in 2008, Section 702 of the Act was adopted which subsequently granted the U.S. Intelligence Community with powers to surveil foreign actors. The Section 702 database contains information that the Intelligence compiles to help in foreign intelligence. However, critics have argued that the Section 702 has allowed improper surveillance of Americans like what an FBI analyst have done in 2022.
FBI Analyst’s Improper Searches
According to Carney, in May 2023, the FISC’s filing determined that the FBI had improperly used the Section 702 over 278,000 times since its establishment. Deputy Director Patrick Toome of the American Civil Liberties Union National Security Project states that the FBI analyst is a confirmation that the U.S. Congress is needed to step in before the bureau breaks more rules.
Reports say that the Congress debates reauthorizing the Section 702 as it is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. The leaders from the Intelligence Community urged the Congress to renew it, but the recent revelations of an FBI analyst misusing the tool have led some lawmakers to oppose the action.