DoJ watchdog barks at FBI’s failure to leash in surveillance

The Federal Bureau of Investigation collects data on individuals not suspected of any crime through a controversial section of the Patriot Act, according to a watchdog report, while the debate on that ability and its supposed strengths rages on.

The report, an analysis of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s
use of Sec. 215 of the Patriot Act to acquire so-called business
records, was released on Thursday of this week by the DOJ’s
Office of the Inspector General, and raises concerns over the
FBI’s reluctance to implement changes to the program despite
years of recommendations.

According to the OIG analysis, the FBI is on track to collect
more types of records than ever before through its Sec. 215
authority, notwithstanding concerns over the bureau’s inability
to adopt minimization procedures, and the degree of incidental
surveillance Americans are increasingly subject to.

“The report notes that the scope of business records sought under
Section 215 greatly expanded in response to legislative changes,
technological advances and strategic choices, and that Section
215 orders have been used in investigations of groups comprised
of unknown members and to obtain information in bulk concerning
persons who are not the subjects of or associated with any FBI
reads part of the report’s executive

“The agents we interviewed did not identify any major case
developments that resulted from use of the records obtained in
response to Section 215 orders, but told us that the material
produced…was valuable in that it was used to support other
investigative requests, develop investigative leads and
corroborate other information,’’
the report concluded.

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