A government watchdog group narrowly voted in a report released on Thursday to recommend that a wide-ranging surveillance program should be restricted due to privacy concerns.
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a bipartisan group of presidentially-appointed experts on surveillance law, released their report after conducting a review of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which the National Security Agency uses to collect electronic data such as emails and texts from major tech companies and telecommunications providers.
The board determined in a 3-2 vote that despite being highly valuable to national security, the program “poses significant privacy and civil liberties risks,” according to the report, which adds that “although all U.S. person queries by the Intelligence Community present privacy and civil liberties risks, FBI’s querying procedures and practices pose the most significant threats to Americans’ privacy.”
The report also states that with some exceptions, “government personnel are not required by Section 702 to make any showing of suspicion that the U.S. person is engaged in any form of wrongdoing prior to using a query term associated with that specific U.S. person. Nor does Section 702 require analysts or agents to seek approval from any judicial authority or other independent entity outside their agency…The government has not demonstrated that such queries [about Americans] have nearly as significant value as the Section 702 program overall.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that the panel’s findings could be used to argue against the Biden administration’s efforts to renew the law with minimal alterations before the end of the year, at which time the program is set to expire.
Theodore Bunker ✉
Theodore Bunker, a Newsmax writer, has more than a decade covering news, media, and politics.
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