Source: Daily Mail
The Federal Bureau of Investigation may have conducted as many as 3.4 million searches of Americans’ electronic data without a warrant last year.
The Wall Street Journal first cited the number Friday, saying it came from an annual report published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
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The report doesn’t allege that the FBI was illegally or improperly searching American data, but still could alarm members of Congress over privacy concerns.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at Friday’s press briefing she had not discussed the Journal’s report with President Joe Biden.
‘My understanding is that some of this was about researching and doing an investigation into potential hacking, but I will get you more from the FBI after this,’ she told the press.
The 3.4 million amount ‘is certainly a large figure,’ a senior FBI official said, according to the Journal. ‘I am not going to pretend that it isn’t.’
Senior Biden administration officials told the paper that the actual number of searches is likely far lower.
The officials explained that there are complexities in sorting American versus foreign individuals’ data.
Additionally, if an individual’s data is searched multiple times – each would count as a search, driving the total number higher. Thus, the number does not represent the number of individuals that would be impacted.
More than half the searches, about two million, were related to a probe into the alleged Russian threat to hack into critical infrastructure in the U.S., the Journal said.