back to article White House: Losing Section 702 spy powers would be among 'worst intelligence failures of our time'

The White House has weighed in on the Section 702 debate, urging lawmakers to reauthorize, "without new and operationally damaging restrictions," the controversial snooping powers before they expire at the end of the year. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows the American government to monitor …

  1. chuckufarley Silver badge

    At the heart of Our Governmental Disfunction...

    ...Lays the fact that more and more rational people are loosing faith and trust in the bodies and agencies of Our Government. S 702 is deeply flawed but it's the best tool they have and if the only tool you have is hammer everything looks like a nail. Programs used by Law Enforcement need to build public trust not undermine it.

    If we don't do something to stop the erosion of public trust I am not sure Our Government or Our Society will survive.

    Because all of this is classified and secret average people can't even suggest reasonable fixes or workarounds to this issue.

  2. stiine Silver badge


  3. Blackjack Silver badge

    To protect America we must spy on all Americans when we want to without having to ask a judge for permission because that's good for America and what is good for America is good for the world.

    1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Well, Elon want to copy WeChat, so everyone gives him all their data about everything. Do we think he'll keep that data private?

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge

        If "private" means that you have to pay to access it, then yes it will be "private"

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The fight over 702 distraction anyway

    They will have shuffled off operations to another subsection of the byzantine legal code that covers all of this. If they can save 702 as cover, they will, but remember that 702 was the silent escape hatch when their previous toy got taken away. Any attempt to reform it will fail until their is transparency and consequence for mass surveillance.

    The FISA court is toothless, and rubber stamps almost all applications. The rubber stamped the approvals for all the big dragnet cases that came to light. Nobody has been fired or jailed for the millions of Americans that have been under nearly continuous and pervasive illegal surveillance since 9/11. The government as a whole knows all this, and it doesn't care because it wants to violate your rights and get away with it. They make sure that almost nobody that does care has any legal authority to act, and zero transparency is the rule of the day.

    Stop trying to fight this on a section by section basis. Pass a law over the top to enforce sound constitutional protections across ALL of their programs. Block them from unsupervised access to data from before the law went into effect unless they can show, and treat access to that data the same as a surveillance request, with the same burden of approval to keep them from just paying somone else to collect the data they can't legally snoop themselves.

    Then force external oversight and transparency on the programs, at least as far as forcing them to let independent auditors review the programs and data collected and post their summary findings and alert the DOJ and regulators about potential violations.

    Gutting 702 and anything that looks like it is reasonable on the surface, but it's a game of whack-a-mole, when they can create three new hidden programs for each you take down.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Marty McFly Silver badge

      Re: The fight over 702 distraction anyway

      >"Pass a law over the top to enforce sound constitutional protections across ALL of their programs....."

      Let me introduce you to the Judicial branch of government and these fine folks called the Supreme Court....

      The challenge, of course, is finding someone with the money & lawyers to bring something all the way to that level. With no one willing to put forth the challenge, then the bad law stands as-is.

    3. Rol

      Re: The fight over 702 distraction anyway

      You're spot on about it being a distraction. The US intelligence service operates no holds barred in foreign holes where the mention of human rights are a joke.

      I remember doing a DNS lookup on those snooping in on my torrenting many years ago, and couldn't for the life of me fathom why the Saudi Arabian government was the least bit interested in my ever expanding music collection. Fact is, they were not at all interested, but the US intelligence wing that operated out of Mecca was. And being in a place where anything, no matter how evil it is, is overlooked, they'll still be there today, eavesdropping on the entire world knowing they'll never have to ask permission from anyone. Least of which the US government.

      So yes. 702's future is immaterial to the plot.

  5. Barrie Shepherd

    If they loose it they will just take a feed from GCHQ

    1. stiine Silver badge

      But we'd have to pay you for that.

    2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Will such be extremely costly or incredibly rewarding?

      If they loose it they will just take a feed from GCHQ ...... Barrie Shepherd

      Maybe ...... but which feed from whom and/or what ...... and would it be be any better and good .... or just as bad and thus guaranteed to make everything everywhere worse than it presently is?

  6. Bear

    Amendment 4 anyone?

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    How is Section 702 even remotely constitutional?

    1. chuckufarley Silver badge

      Re: Amendment 4 anyone?

      No one said, to my knowledge, that it was. What they keep saying is that is necessary. Now I don't mind giving them what they need. What I mind is not knowing how and why it works. After 15 years of secrecy I don't think it's needed anymore. There must be better, more lawful, and far more transparent tools we could develop to help them help us, instead of just helping themselves. BTW, can you tell that my somewhat limited trust has been undermined?

    2. elip

      Re: Amendment 4 anyone?

      It never has been, but it has never been allowed to be challenged.

    3. Great Bu

      Re: Amendment 4 anyone?

      702 is constitutional because it only allows this level of snooping on non-US citizens (who are not protected by the constitution). The mis-use of the law to snoop on US citizens is the problem, often in the scenario of one side of the intercepted communication being a valid (non-US citizen) target and the other being a supposedly protected US citizen.

      This is why we have Amendment 2.

  7. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Why would the CIA care what the law says? Or MIx/GCHQ, for that matter?

  8. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Parasites'R'US? Is it not so?

    Secret Advanced IntelAIgently Resourced Services to International and Internetional Rescue.

    FBI Director Chris Wray said last week that Section 702 data was responsible for "97 percent of our raw technical reporting on cyber actors."

    Now the White House has thrown its weight behind its intel services, arguing that curbing the legislation or letting it drop would be "one of the worst intelligence failures of our time."

    Reading the runes between the lines of those pronouncements/admissions reveals to one and all that Uncle Sam is both virtually reliant upon and catastrophically vulnerable to the exploitation of the information and intelligence and views and opinions being shared by others rather than them being sustained and mentored by anything which they would have tended and tendered themselves in-house and homegrown.

    That is both a very strange brave and bold confession to broadband cast world wide web wide. And more than just suggests a heaven sent opportunity and/or hellish complex task be readily available for the tendering of suitable necessary missing vital services/ESPecial Operations.

  9. I miss PL/1

    Of course it would be detrimental to the Democrats trying to spy on the next election.

  10. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Worst intelligence failures…

    To be a failure at intelligence, you first need to have at least some. This is an industry that spends a lot of its time making shit up.

  11. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Simple Help to Resolve a Growing Enigmatic Problem... for Any and All with a Vital Need to Know

    "If they loose[sic] it [Section 702 spy powers] they will just take a feed from GCHQ" says Barrie Shepherd.

    And stiine replied, and appeared to complain, "But we'd have to pay you for that."

    amanfromMars 1 seriously asks, "What would be a fair and attractive equitable price for a feed from the likes of a GCHQ [for GCHQ itself/themselves may not have any ready to go seeds/reads] which provides a heaven sent opportunity suitably tendering and attending to necessary missing vital services via the supply of ESPecial Operations?"

    Being realistic, do you reckon millions ..or billions ...or trillions .... or would such be invaluable and priceless and more/most easily bought with the simple issue, to any vital leading principal, of an unlimited magic plastic company/government credit card?

    While it works with the exercise of its purchases being honoured and promptly unquestioningly paid is future supply as may be subsequently revealed and agreed beneficial, failsafe guaranteed, with any differences of opinion leading to refusal of acceptance of future proposals immediately registered and realised as being probably then much better suited to A.N.Other, by any unlimited magic plastic company/government credit card payment refusal/glitch/hiccup/.

  12. Scene it all

    And when they make end-to-end encryption illegal, Section 702 is how they will round up all the Americans using it.

  13. very angry man

    one of the worst intelligence failures of our time."

    one of the worst intelligence failures of our time."

    And I thought that was the NSA knowing about 9/11 for months and the exact date 10 days before and thinking it was worth mentioning to anyone

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Land of the free...

    To be slaves to the people they elect...

    Oh, wait.....

  15. Sparkus

    You want public confidence in the FISA and court?

    How about jailing (SuperMax preferred) and seizing the pensions of civil servants who misuse and lie on their wiretap applications?

  16. Cliffwilliams44 Bronze badge

    We must have this,

    For a safe, and Secure, Society!

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