When Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) had misused foreign intelligence surveillance laws to collect millions of Americans’ phone records, the resulting public outcry eventually led Congress to ban the practice. How would Americans and their lawmakers react if they learned that the government was misusing these powers to access the actual contents of millions of Americans’ communications, without a warrant or even a factual basis to suspect criminal activity?
According to a recent government report, that’s exactly what’s happening. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence recently disclosed that in 2021 the FBI conducted up to 3.4 million warrantless searches seeking Americans’ phone calls, emails, and text messages — using a law that, on paper, can only be used to spy on foreigners overseas.
The law in question, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, was one of the many laws Congress passed after 9/11 to expand the government’s surveillance powers. It allows the
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