Feds Illegally Used Tool To Spy on Americans, Report Finds

Feds Illegally Used Tool To Spy on Americans, Report Finds

(UnitedVoice.com) – The federal government has a long history of spying on American citizens. The FBI infamously kept dossiers on political figures, including Martin Luther King Jr. Not much has changed, according to newly unsealed court records.

The documents included an opinion from the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, dated April 21, 2022, that threatened to crack down on the FBI if it didn’t change its surveillance practices. The federal agency reportedly misused the Section 702 database, a powerful collection of information about American citizens. According to a report in The Washington Post, agents searched the database more than 278,000 times without the proper permission.

The FBI is supposed to only search the 702 database when agents believe they will be able to produce evidence related to a crime or foreign intelligence information. It was created in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The agency claims there was a miscommunication somewhere, and agents began using the database for more than the intended purposes.

Some of the abuses include multiple instances between 2016 through 2020 where the FBI performed inquiries for information on people mentioned in “police homicide reports, including victims, next-of-kin, witnesses, and suspects.” More than 23,000 searches were related to the January 6 riots to allegedly determine if there was foreign influence, but the agency reportedly had no indication that a link between the incident and outside actors exists. Over 100 other queries were about people arrested during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests.

The court threatened to force the FBI to make changes if it didn’t clean its house. The agency acted before the judges had to make good on their threats.

Critics have long protested the government’s access to the sweeping database. Civil rights activists don’t believe the feds can be trusted with the enormous responsibility of using it properly, and it turns out they were right.

Congress will decide later this year whether to continue to renew Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Republicans have indicated they have serious reservations about it.

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