back to article FBI: FISA Section 702 'absolutely critical' to spy on, err, protect Americans

The FBI doesn't want to lose its favorite codified way to spy, Section 702 of the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In its latest salvo, the agency's deputy director Paul Abbate called it "absolutely critical for the FBI to continue protecting the American people." Apparently spying on protestors or Congressional …

  1. martinusher Silver badge

    Nothing new (alas)

    https://youtu.be/Fj-VANO6Y3M

  2. that one in the corner Silver badge

    FBI is collecting foreign intel on a hacker in China

    Colour me confused; as a non-US type person, I'd been under the impression that the FBI only worked within the US and the CIA dealt with anything from outside it. But the phrasing of:

    > Abbate did acknowledge that sometimes people on domestic soil get caught up in a sweep. For example, if the FBI is collecting foreign intel on a hacker in China, and that cybercriminal is working with people in the US.

    seems to indicate a situation where the FBI started out solely with an interest in China, only later expanded to looking within the US (and then being too broad there, hence the complaint against them).

    Anyone care to point me on the correct path to understanding here? TIA.

    1. Clausewitz4.0 Bronze badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: FBI is collecting foreign intel on a hacker in China

      Hmmm not.

      I know personally (and with proof) about Brazilian businessmen that spied for the FBI in Brazilian soil.

      FBI invited them to Chicago and made the proposal - which was accepted.

      By Brazilian military law, those gentlemen could even be lawfully executed. No joke.

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: FBI is collecting foreign intel on a hacker in China

      Yes the CIA are the equivalent of MI6 (foreign) and the FBI are MI5 (domestic). It’s not the CIA who do most of the interceptions though it’s the NSA who handle most of the SIGINT, ELINT etc. in the USA and in places like RAF Menwith Hill in the UK, Pine Gap in Australia etc.

      1. TheBruce

        Re: FBI is collecting foreign intel on a hacker in China

        The FBI are police and the CIA are spies. The FBI is supposed to follow rules of evidence collection so it can be legally presented in court. The problem is the law was changed to provide a big loophole for the FBI and thy abused it.

    3. localzuk Silver badge

      Re: FBI is collecting foreign intel on a hacker in China

      I think its a little more complicated than that.

      If, for example, a crime is going on in the USA, and it involves someone from overseas, it would likely fall under the purview of the FBI I think?

  3. VoiceOfTruth

    It does depress me

    I like what the USA ostensibly stands for. But what it actually does, the FBI is no different to the Stasi.

    The USA paints itself as a democracy while several states are trying tooth and nail to disenfranchise voters of the "wrong" colour. If it was anywhere other than the USA the usual hangers on would be proclaiming about the "disputed" and "sham" elections.

    The prison industrial complex in the USA is just slavery by another name.

    It wears very thin after a time. We read about the FBI spying on people protesting wrongful deaths caused by the police, but not about the FBI spying on police officers causing wrongful deaths. The FBI may say it has "changed" but it's like changing my socks. They are still my socks and the effects are the same.

    1. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Re: It does depress me

      "It wears very thin after a time"

      But not to the extent that anyone makes any effort to change it, except for the worse. Other nations that sow fear and division to ensure the wealthy and powerful go unchallenged are available.

      1. FIA Silver badge

        Re: It does depress me

        It's almost like human beings are by nature tribal, selfish and distrustful.

        Individually, people are generally lovely (a fact many on the internets could do to remember), but human beings as a group (when you can blame it on someone else) not so much.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It does depress me

          "It's almost like human beings are by nature tribal, selfish and distrustful."

          No. Only those people who like to put other people in prison, are that. Just because they *like* to bully other people, reasons are invented afterwards. This FBI Nazi is a good example and of course he lies about everything to public and his superiors.

          1. FIA Silver badge

            Re: It does depress me

            No. Only those people who like to put other people in prison, are that. Just because they *like* to bully other people, reasons are invented afterwards. This FBI Nazi is a good example and of course he lies about everything to public and his superiors.

            I think that's an over simplification. People aren't generally 'good' or 'bad', most people have the capacity for both, and what you get out of them can depend on many many things.

            For example, it's hard to put someone in prison for spurious reasons if you're doing it personally... you have to look them in the eye as you deprive them of liberty, and deprive their families of them. To do this you'd need a pretty good reason.

            It's much less hard to, say, sign a bit of paper that would have the same effect. You're not the one putting someone away, and the people who do are just 'doing their job'. That's what I mean, once you get more than one person involved then it's much easier for the bad things to emerge, the more people, the easier this is. (Most nations do or have done some fairly horrific things).

            If you view the world as 'good' and 'bad' people then it's very easy to assume you're one of the 'good' ones, and good people never do bad things. If you understand there's much much more shades of grey then you stand a better chance of recognising if you ever get into a situation where you may not be doing quite the right thing, even if you are just doing your job.

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: It does depress me

            Sigh. Eternal September is eternal.

            I suppose it's good to know that there's no shortage of sophomores, in case it turns out they're useful for something.

      2. localzuk Silver badge

        Re: It does depress me

        How do you make that change though? In a country where it is 2 party, and anyone who dares express something that would be a major change is shouted down as crazy (eg. Bernie Sanders)?

        To change the USA, you would need consensus across both parties, and across all states. Pigs would sooner fly.

        But then, its the same in the UK. We very rarely get actual real change.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: It does depress me

          Sanders was hardly "shouted down". He had a credible run for the nomination. He also made numerous mistakes and did not make much of an attempt to broaden his base. He's not actually a terribly adept politician.

          That's not to say the Democratic Party regulars aren't conservative. Biden won the nomination in 2020 largely because he was a familiar face who rode Obama's coattails, particularly with southern Democrats, and because of the perennial fear that a woman can't win the US Presidency.

          Frankly, I'm not sure I'd describe anything Sanders was seriously proposing as a "major policy change". At least not more major than, say, getting the US out of Afghanistan or removing the right to abortion, or some other things which have happened without him in charge. And the POTUS is not an absolute monarch, either; there's not much a radical one can do against Congress and the courts. Carter tried to take on Reclamation and Congress – including his own party – walked all over him.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: It does depress me

      We stand for Freedom(TM) in the US, of course.

      The catch is that nobody defines what that word actually means and its enforcement is left to eternal argument. So our understanding of freedom includes the ability to force others to obey us and allow us to exploit them. Obviously the people on the receiving end of this can push back, a core thread running through US life is this battle between people pushing the envelope and people pushing back, but there's nothing out there that says the battle has to be equal.

      But when you think about it that's pretty much the condition of the entirety of humanity. The only way things can improve is under a benign dictatorship, a notion which opens up another very large can of worms.

    3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: It does depress me

      But what it actually does, the FBI is no different to the Stasi.

      Frankly, this is complete bullshit and quite offensive.

      I'm by no means a fan of the US police and surveillance state, as I think I've made clear in other posts. I think the myriad policing and surveillance branches of both the Federal and state governments need to be sharply reined in. I think the FISA court is a joke. I'd like to see the entire PATRIOT Act tossed out. (I'd say I'd like to see the fairly dreadful Department of Homeland Security broken up, but the expense would be huge and I don't think it'd actually achieve anything.)

      But without excusing any of the malfeasance of US policing at any level, it is nothing like what went on on East Germany, and to suggest that it is diminishes the awful experiences of people living under that regime, and is breathtakingly disrespectful to them.

      You really need to learn to think critically.

  4. chuckufarley Silver badge

    In a word...

    ...

    LAZY

    ...

    No government needs this. It only exists because they do not want to do the real investigative policing.

  5. Ashto5

    The FBI are great

    Please take me off your lists

    I think your awesome :)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " deputy director Paul Abbate called it "absolutely critical for the FBI to continue protecting the American people.""

    This guy is a proper Nazi. Nazis, at this level, should be judged and executed. He also is a lying asshole, but that seems to be the norm in any police organization.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Like a number of Reg readers, I was there on Usenet in 1990 when Mike Godwin proposed his eponymous law. And many of us chuckled. It seemed like one of those innocuous, humorous generalizations of Usenet culture, like Jo Walton's (later) "The Lurkers Support Me in Email".

      But of course he was right, and we have no shortage of sophomores to demonstrate it. And generally those sophomores are ignorant of Godwin's real point: that by throwing around spurious comparisons, you not only say nothing of value, but you insult the actual victims of the Nazi regime (or whatever other atrocity you're handwaving toward) as well. Though the call for gratuitous violence is a nice addition. Certainly oppressive regimes never indulge in that!

      I suppose what I'm saying is, do shut the hell up until you learn to think and communicate like an adult. Thanks.

  7. Sandstone

    Patriot Act Fallout

    This all resulted from the ill-conceived Patriot Act. Just needed an excuse to turn on the giant Hoover.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Patriot Act Fallout

      The patriot act resulted FROM an excuse to spy on Americans

      1. Clausewitz4.0 Bronze badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Patriot Act Fallout

        "The patriot act resulted FROM an excuse to spy on Americans"

        Don't say that out loud.. they will call you a conspiracy theorist (which I know you are not)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Patriot Act Fallout

      J. Edgar?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Misdirection!.....Again!

    In the mists of time.....someone called Edward Snowden revealed some interesting stuff...................................

    Yup.....the NSA and the FBI were snooping (without warrants) on EVERYONE who used a phone, or an internet connection, or a RING doorbell..................

    Yup.....ten years ago.............................

    Nothing has changed............................

    Sure.......get wound up about "Section 702'.........................

    Sure.......write to your elected representatives about "Section 702'.........................

    ......but the fact still remains that the nice people in Fort Meade (and Cheltenham and the FBI) are still snooping on EVERYONE without warrants.....no matter what the laws end up saying!!

    Section 702, GDPR.......it's all just political theatre...............and millions of citizens are either taken in.......or millions of citizens simply don't care!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Misdirection!.....Again!

      Why do you think Congress doesn't do anything about Section 702?

      The files from the Hoover era have been updated to take account of the new members of Congress...

  9. Tron Silver badge

    Regardless of any laws...

    ...governments and law enforcement will do anything they think they can get away with.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Regardless of any laws...

      He who has the gold makes the rule, or, we're the ones you suckers have chosen, we can do whateveer the fuck we want.

  10. Reginald O.
    Meh

    Oh look! Over there ->. A squirrel!

    This is the kind of thing 'we the people' should be marching in the streets about, but the our focus is skillfully diverted by the 'system' to sensational events that do not apply to our fundamental rights or daily lives such as the latest adventure of Trump, transvestite clown shows and urban violence porno.

    There's always a Sen. Wyden around to be the conscience of Congress who gets five minutes to make calls for reform then is quickly sent back to his seat so the dirty work passing the latest travesty can be quietly approved until next time.

    It's not supposed to be like this.

  11. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    What people are missing is that the FBI *can* monitor and eavesdrop on US citizens but they need a warrant first, thus justifiable reason to take actions (eg he's a potential spy in contact with China). Not an infallible system but there's some kind of restriction imposed.

    702 removes the basic requirement for justifiability, that's what makes it very bad.

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