Once Again, Feds Found To Be Abusing Surveillance Procedures With Little Oversight
from the feeling-safer? dept
Every few months it seems that yet another report comes out saying that the various intelligence agencies have abused their powers to spy on people with little (or no) oversight. The latest such report, released thanks to a court battle by the ACLU explains (in heavily redacted terms) that there are still widespread abuses of the process of wiretapping people under the FISA law (though, it may not be quite as bad as in the past). Of course, the specific details are all redacted.
Separately, a Freedom of Information request by Chris Soghoian has turned up how the feds now regularly are tracking real-time info such as credit card transactions (as you make them) without first getting a court order. Apparently, the Justice Department is allowing agents to write their own subpoenas, and the only role a judge plays is in ordering that the surveillance not be disclosed. Once that happens, credit card companies, mobile operators, rental car companies and even retail stores with loyalty cards end up giving the government a direct, real-time feed. So, yes, the government may know about that giant bag of nacho chips you bought at Costco before you even make it home. Obviously, there may be good reasons for the government to want real-time info on certain people that they’re watching but doesn’t it seem a bit strange to avoid having to go to a judge and proving probable cause before being allowed to get that kind of info?