Are we getting spied on by the FBI? Well, a new report suggests we are…
On Friday, U.S. intelligence officials said that the FBI executed millions of searches of American electronic data last year without a warrant.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) report doesn’t specify if the FBI was illegally or improperly searching American data but still could alarm members of Congress over privacy concerns after conducting over 3.4 million searches of data without a warrant.
The ODNI report also says that the FBI is using the identity of a presumed U.S. person” from Dec. 1, 2020, to Nov. 30, 2021, for their data searches.
WLT noted that the warrantless data searches were a 260% increase than in the year 2021, which goes to show under the Biden admin the FBI has had less accountability than ever before.
Note to the FBI spying on Americans — this is none of your damn business! https://t.co/FaVydqi6u8
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) April 29, 2022
The FBI is (still) spying on you https://t.co/4us1QnZQXy
— Young Americans for Liberty (@YALiberty) April 29, 2022
More details of this bombshell story from The National Review report:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted as many as 3.4 million searches of data in the U.S. without a warrant over the year 2021, according to a new government report.
The Annual Statistical Transparency Report, was published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Thursday and focuses on the intelligence community’s use of national security authorities for surveillance under U.S. law. The information was previously gathered by the National Security Agency, the U.S. military’s signals intelligence agency, but was transferred to the civilian-led FBI per the U.S.A. FREEDOM Act, passed in 2015.
The figure represented a 260 percent increase from the previous coverage year, 2020, where the FBI had conducted around 1.3 million searches.
According to analysis by the Wall Street Journal, more than half the data searches – 1.9 million – pertained to the FBI’s investigations of attempts by Russian hackers to infiltrate and sabotage critical U.S. infrastructure. This included the investigation of the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, a 5,500-mile pipeline from Texas to New York, which was shut down by Russian hacking group “DarkSide” in exchange for ransom in May of 2021. The shutdown briefly prompted emergency fuel rationing measures by the Department of Energy across the northeastern United States.
FBI doing FBI things. Spying on Americans under the guise of security. Shameful. https://t.co/D3AHH4TncB
— JTwosix (@JTwosix) April 29, 2022
When the FBI does decide to use warrants they do it secretly by conducting a geofence warrant. This type of warrant is issued by a court to allow law enforcement to search a database to find all active mobile devices within a particular geofence area.
Here’s what the Wired report says about the rise of geofence warrants:
COURT DOCUMENTS SUGGEST the FBI has been using controversial geofence search warrants at a scale not publicly seen before, collecting account information and location data on hundreds of devices inside the US Capitol during a deadly invasion by a right-wing mob on January 6.
While Google receives over 10,000 geofence warrants for location data in the US a year, those covering the Capitol breach appear to have been particularly productive, apparently enabling the FBI to build a large, searchable database in its hunt for the rioters.
Geofence warrants are intended to locate anyone in a given area using digital services. Google has been the target for many geofence warrants because its location technologies, which leverage GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth signals to pinpoint a phone within a few yards, are powerful and widely used.
Investigators can and do also serve warrants on phone companies. However, cell phone towers can only locate phones to within about three-quarters of a mile. While court documents suggest that the FBI collected cell tower records for “thousands of devices that were inside the Capitol” during the riot, Google’s data offers a much higher degree of accuracy.
Friday’s report marked the first time a U.S. intelligence agency gave a count of how much American data the FBI is looking at through Section 702.