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Friday, March 24, 2023

White House intends to expand Total Surveillance Act outside US – Reuters

This has already been confirmed by US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The Joe Biden administration supports congressional reauthorization of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, he said. “Section 702 has proven to be the cornerstone of American national security,” Sullivan said, adding that preserving the instrument is a priority for the current administration.

The attorney general and the director of the NSA have already submitted a joint letter to the leadership of Congress with a corresponding request. A senior Justice Department official is also expected to call on Congress soon to expand Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, passed in 2008 and extended several times. It expires at the end of December.

This law allows the US government, without any warrant, to monitor the emails and calls of foreigners abroad, including when these people interact with Americans. The latest clarification has outraged American civil liberties advocates, though they have nothing against the surveillance of citizens of other countries.

Under this law, the NSA can order messaging services such as Google to provide the intelligence agency with copies of all messages from foreign user accounts, and network operators to intercept and provide copies of all phone calls, text messages and internet communications.

It should be noted that the wiretapping program, codenamed Stellarwind, was started by President George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks. But it violated the Surveillance Act of 1978, which required a judge’s authorization to monitor suspects. Initially, it was only actions on the territory of the country, and no permission was required to spy on someone abroad. Everything has changed thanks to new technologies. The Internet and fiber optic lines also made foreign communications available in the United States, which meant that a warrant was needed to intercept them. As a result, for several years, the Stellarwind program violated US law. The oversight was not corrected until 2008, when a new law was passed.

The need to obtain surveillance permits will drastically reduce the amount of intelligence the government can collect, NSA officials say. Going to court takes time and resources, and lawyers must prove the necessity of issuing such a warrant. So in 2021, US authorities were able to get judges’ approval to wiretap only 300 Americans or non-citizens in the country. But abroad, they monitored 230,000 objects in the same year.

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