Tester demands answers about governments data collection
Senator raises questions over NSA’s misuse of government surveillance law
(U.S. SENATE) – After recent reports raised serious questions about the NSA’s collection of innocent Americans’ private electronic information, Senator Jon Tester is demanding answers.
Tester is asking Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to address two recent reports from the Washington Post and the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board indicating that the NSA is misusing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to obtain Americans electronic records without a warrant – and then storing the information for an unknown amount of time.
The reports found that over half of the communications collected under Section 702 are from Americans. Section 702 was designed to target people abroad who were not U.S. citizens.
Tester has twice voted against Section 702 because of his concerns that the law violated the privacy of law-abiding Americans.
“If personal data is being obtained without a warrant and stored for an unknown and possibly indefinite period of time, it is an unconstitutional violation of privacy,” Tester said in a letter to Clapper. “We are hopeful your office will take clear and measured steps in order to implement procedures requiring the government to obtain a warrant prior to searching information.”
Tester also asked Director Clapper to answer a series of questions clarifying how the NSA uses electronic records and how long they are stored. Tester intends to make the response public and use it as a guideline to strengthen Americans’ privacy protections.
Tester recently included provisions in the Department of Homeland Security’s funding bill to strengthen Montanans’ privacy rights by blocking a national license plate database and requiring the department to report on its use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.
Tester’s letter to Director Clapper is co-signed by Senators John Walsh (D-Mont.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska).