FBI Director Christopher Wray urged the US Senate on Tuesday to continue funding the government’s controversial surveillance tool, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
Wray, in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the tool is essential to the agency’s efforts in combating threats posed by foreign adversaries.
He also noted that the program is set to expire at the end of the year if Congress does not take action.
The program, “702 allows us to stay a step ahead of foreign actors located outside the United States who pose a threat to national security and the expiration of our 702 authorities would be devastating to the FBI’s ability to protect Americans from those threats,” he said.
The FBI chief said overseas cybercriminals targeting a transportation hub, public utilities, or hospitals often necessitate the use of 702 to locate victims, assist in recovery and preemptively protect potential targets from future attacks.
“And just one recent cyber case, for instance, 702 allowed the FBI to alert more than 300 victims in every state and country around the world,” said Wray. “Given the critical importance of 702, we are committed to being good stewards of our authorities.”
Section 702 has received recognition for thwarting terror plots within the US, but it has also faced allegations of being a tool to surveil American citizens.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the program allows the US government to engage in mass, warrantless surveillance of Americans’ and foreigners’ phone calls, text messages, emails and other electronic communications.
“Information collected under the law without a warrant can be used to prosecute and imprison people, even for crimes that have nothing to do with national security,” the rights advocacy group said on its website.
Source : aa