The FBI performed warrantless searches (which are illegal according to the 4th Amendment of the Bill of Rights) on 3.4 million Americans last year. That is 1% of the US population, and twice as many as only a year earlier. Why is the US’ premier domestic law enforcement agency breaking the law to surveil 1% of Americans in a single year? What is the FBI looking for?
The number of searches conducted by the FBI of Americans’ communications doubled from 2020 to 2021, according to a report released on April 29 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).
The ODNI report details U.S. intelligence agencies’ use of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which authorizes the warrantless surveillance of electronic communications content stored by U.S. internet service providers. ODNI noted that this year’s report is the first one to track the FBI’s use of “unminimized Section 702 collection”—raw data collected by the National Security Agency (NSA).
According to the report, the FBI used its Section 702 powers to collect the data of roughly 3.4 million U.S. people in 2021—up from 1.3 million a year before. The report only provides statistics for 2020 and 2021.
A senior FBI official reportedly said at an April 29 press briefing that the 3.4 million figure “is certainly a large number…”