WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released the Annual Statistical Transparency Report for 2022. The release comes as Congress is embroiled in debate over how to reform privacy protections for Americans in light of decades of well-documented misuse of presidential surveillance powers, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and an extremely controversial part of it known as “Section 702.”
In response to the release, Demand Progress Senior Policy Counsel Sean Vitka issued the following statement:
“Today’s report illuminates three disturbing facts: the FBI continues to completely ignore the law Congress enacted requiring FISA Court review of a sliver of the government’s warrantless searches targeting Americans; over the years the FBI appears to have conducted millions of backdoor searches of information about, to, and from Americans that were unnecessary for national security; and the government has more than doubled the amount of information it is collecting under the Patriot Act provision that Congress eliminated three years ago.
“This report exposes a perpetuation of unlawful backdoor searches and mass surveillance that should have already ended, and in doing so demonstrates that Congress must act more aggressively and comprehensively to secure the privacy of people in the United States across the board. We and a wide, bipartisan coalition of organizations are fighting to ensure it does just that.”
The ODNI’s decision to release the report on a Friday afternoon mirrors its decision to release on December 21 of last year the now-infamous report on serious compliance violations, including apparent political surveillance and racial profiling. Section 702 likely hands the government over one billion communications annually — all without a single warrant. The government has searched through that information specifically for Americans millions of times since it was enacted in 2008 while flouting the rules and laws that govern this invasive spying. Meanwhile, the government continues to refuse Congress and the public an estimate of how many Americans are swept up under this controversial authority.
Section 702 was the subject of two hearings yesterday that demonstrated uniquely bipartisan support for major reforms, which Congress must act on before the end of the year.