UPDATED 1:45 PM PST – Wednesday October 9, 2019
The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has ruled that the FBI previously violated Americans’ privacy rights by conducting unreasonable searches. The FISA Court opinion disclosed Tuesday revealed that the FBI violated constitutional rights and federal law through their warrant-less internet surveillance program.
A 2018 review revealed the bureau used their raw intelligence database in 2017 and 2018 to administer tens of thousands of searches on private U.S. citizens. The searches were conducted on some occasions to screen FBI personnel and sources, involving emails and phone numbers. In one instance, the court stated that an FBI contractor searched his family, staff members and himself on the database.
Federal law requires the database only be used to gather evidence of a crime or foreign intelligence information. According to the ruling, the FBI violated the law authorizing the program as well as the Fourth Amendment, which bars the government from conducting unreasonable searches.
Following the court’s decision, the FBI said it would apply new procedures as to how the database is used in order to better protect personal privacy.
The Foreign Intelligence Service Act has been under scrutiny for some time. Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page has argued the Obama-era FBI may have used its FISA authority unlawfully against him.