(USNewsMag.com) – Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Christopher Wray, called on lawmakers this week to continue funding a tool for surveillance that’s raised concerns among Americans about spying on citizens and invasion of privacy.
Appearing on Tuesday morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wray urged Congress members to reauthorize a controversial section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Section 702 of FISA is praised by the intelligence community, which claims the surveillance program has helped prevent terrorist attacks on US soil, while many average Americans view the section as a way to spy on citizens.
The specific section of FISA in question allows the federal government, without a warrant, to watch and collect data on specific foreign nationals even when they are outside of the US, and even if the other person the national is corresponding with is a US citizen on American soil. Section 702 is set to end by the end of the year if Congress doesn’t approve it again.
Wray testified to the Senate that he believes the expiration of and failure to renew the law “would be devastating” to the bureau’s “ability to protect Americans.” He told the House committee that the FBI is concerned about a “steady drumbeat” of calls to violence ever since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and killed roughly 1,200. Wray called Section 702 “indispensable” when combating terror threats because it allows the government to remain “a step ahead of foreign actors” outside the US who may “pose a threat to national security.”
Wray went on to cite a few examples of how the FBI used the law to assist victims of cyber attacks and also to identify potential targets of those committing cyber crimes. He claims stripping the surveillance powers granted by Section 702 would unilaterally disarm the FBI.
Critics of the section from both major parties claim that the law oversteps constitutionality by infringing on the civil liberties of US citizens in contact with foreign nationals.
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