White House Panel Recommends Limiting FBI’s Access to Spy Data

By Steve Neavling

An advisory board to President Biden recommended further restrictions on the FBI’s ability to access surveillance data to search for information about Americans, but still encouraged lawmakers to renew the law that authorizes it. 

Despite the privacy concerns, the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board said that Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is an essential national security tool, The New York Times reports

The law is set to expire at the end of the year, and if the FBI can continue to access the data after that, Section 702 needs to be reauthorized by Congress. 

The board recommended restricting the FBI from searching the database for evidence involving Americans when the criminal investigation does not involve foreign intelligence. 

Some Republican and Democratic lawmakers have said they plan to allow the law to expire, saying the warrantless surveillance program can lead to abuses. 

A newly declassified court ruling last month revealed that an FBI analyst improperly used the system to search for the names of two lawmakers. 

The FBI uses the warrantless surveillance to stop overseas hackers, spy services and terrorists. 

In a written statement, the bureau said the advisory board “recognizes that the reforms put in place by the FBI have yielded substantial compliance improvements.”

“We agree that Section 702 should be reauthorized in a manner that does not diminish its effectiveness, as well as reassures the public of its importance and our ability to adhere rigorously to all relevant rules,” the FBI said. “We look forward to engaging with Congress on the recommendations in the PIAB report, and appreciate the board’s professionalism, expertise, and judgment in conducting this important assessment.” 

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