When the FBI obtains data on US citizens, oftentimes from the NSA, the agency is obligated to abide by some pretty strict protections when it comes to who gets to see that intelligence. The rules are in place for obvious reasons, including preventing private parties and even foreign governments from essentially spying on Americans by proxy. Newly declassified documents show that the FBI failed to follow those guidelines, potentially putting raw intelligence information into the hands of people who absolutely shouldn’t have access to it.
As Circa reports, a recently declassified ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court (FISA) calls out the FBI’s bad habits when it comes to data sharing. The ruling notes that the FBI failed to properly follow the “minimization procedures” which are designed to prevent sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.
The court ruling describes how, on at least two separate occasions, the FBI shared raw intelligence data with private contractors. The roles and identity of those contracts is redacted in the declassified ruling, but notes that the recipients were “non-FBI personnel,” which clearly flies in the face of the privacy rules that are currently in place.
The ruling is in direct conflict with statements made by then-FBI Director James Comey who, earlier this month, assured lawmakers that the data being collected and used by the bureau was being “carefully overseen and checked.” It’s also worth noting that the FISA rules will come under review this year, and it will be up to elected officials to decide how much or little they will change.