The FBI searched troves of communications sucked up by the National Security Agency for information on ‘racially motivated violent extremists’ without a warrant, ignoring previous warnings it was breaking the law.
The FBI’s requests for access to masses of electronic communications harvested by the National Security Agency (NSA) is revealed in a newly declassified report from the United States’ secret surveillance court.
It shows the FBI has continued to perform warrantless searches through the NSA’s most sensitive databases for routine criminal investigations, despite being told by a federal judge in 2018 and 2019 that such a use was an unconstitutional breach of privacy.
The FBI has traditionally only been allowed to seek data in cases of national security.
But after the bureau began making requests for routine criminal investigations, the FISA courts have been cracking down on how the FBI can access the data of Americans who are caught in these sweeps.
The FBI has been repeatedly blasted by federal judges over its use of the NSA’s vast electronic sweep of emails, texts and other electronic data.
In October 2019, the agency was found to have performed tens of thousands of illegal searches on Americans.