U.S. discloses ruling last year by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that FBI’s data queries of U.S. citizens were unconstitutional
WASHINGTON—Some of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s electronic surveillance activities violated the constitutional privacy rights of Americans swept up in a controversial foreign intelligence program, a secretive surveillance court has ruled.
The ruling deals a rare rebuke to U.S. spying activities that have generally withstood legal challenge or review.
The intelligence community disclosed Tuesday that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court last year found that the FBI’s pursuit of data about Americans ensnared in a warrantless internet-surveillance program intended to target foreign suspects may have violated the law authorizing the program, as well as the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.
The court concluded that the FBI had been improperly searching a database of raw intelligence for information on Americans—raising concerns about oversight of the program, which as a spy program operates in near total secrecy.