The government is also investigating an alleged Russian plot to use cyberattacks and disinformation to help Trump win.
Obama approves sweeping reforms to NSA phone surveillance
After being rebuffed, officials reportedly narrowed their request and got approval in October to monitor a computer server in Trump Tower to establish whether there were ties to Russian banks. But such surveillance would be vastly different than the type of direct wiretapping Trump raised in his tweetstorm Saturday morning.
Nojeim explained that government investigators have two routes to obtaining a wiretap in the U. On the criminal side, the government must present a judge with probable cause that a wiretap-eligible offense has occurred — or is occurring — and that a wiretap will uncover the necessary evidence. The other route is through the FISA court, where the hurdles are trickier, specialists said, because the spying programs it oversees focus on foreign targets.
Officials must present the FISA court judge with probable cause that the person being wiretapped is an agent of a foreign power, like a spy, or an agent of a foreign terrorist organization. The government must also show that the phone line, email account or computer server in question is going to be used by that foreign target. If that target is an American citizen, the attorney general also has to OK the spying.
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Indeed, senior U. But surveillance experts — and especially surveillance critics — were quick to note the myriad other routes officials have to get at the banter inside Trump Tower.
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Through routine data collection programs authorized under Section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the government gathers information from the internet backbone, which carries web browsing histories and a rapidly increasing amount of telephone traffic. It comes two and a half years after the controversial program was exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Obama approves sweeping reforms to NSA phone surveillance - CNET
The move, mandated by a law passed six months ago, represents the greatest reduction of U. Under the Freedom Act, the NSA and law enforcement agencies can no longer collect telephone calling records in bulk in an effort to sniff out suspicious activity.
Instead analysts must now get a court order to ask telecommunications companies like Verizon Communications to enable monitoring of call records of specific people or groups for up to six months. Some Republican lawmakers want to preserve bulk collection until , citing the Nov.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the killings. But any new surveillance measures are unlikely to become law ahead of the November presidential elections. A presidential review committee concluded the surveillance regime did not lead to a single clear counter terrorism breakthrough that could be directly attributed to the program. Discover Thomson Reuters.