According to the latest Transparency Report on Surveillance, from the Office of National Intelligence, t was unveiled that both the NSA and CIA doubled the volume of warrantless searches of the US citizens.
About 4,672 surveillance queries regarding known US citizens were reported in 2015, doubling since 2013. This number does not include searches conducted by the FBI. Warrantless search requests were conducted using the 702 database which collects billions of bytes of digital communication between US citizens.
Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
According to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the National Surveillance Agency can collect limitless volumes of digital data from cyber giants based within and outside the US. This includes Google, Facebook, YouTube and any others.
The US National Intelligence Office claims that communication data is collected “legitimately”, but this practice is considered unlawful by many privacy advocates. According to lawmakers and privacy activists, US law enforcement agencies should acquire a court approval before carrying out back door surveillance on its citizens.
Salient features of the latest Surveillance Transparency Report inform that:
- The number of searches conducted by the FBI is excluded from the 2015 transparency report
- The number of request for metadata and basic communication data went up dramatically in the last two years
- 14 lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee have demanded an answer on how often authorities retrieve communication data from the Section 702 database
- According to the Project on Government Oversight, number of requests made by FBI exceeds those of the NSA and CIA
The National Intelligence Transparency report has left millions of US citizens feeling cheated and worried. Privacy advocates are concerned over just how many citizens have been impacted by unwarranted surveillance by US law enforcement each year.
While the report sheds light on the number of queries by US Surveillance agencies, security experts are worried more about the unknown number of queries from FBI from the Section 702 databases.