According to a disturbing new report, President Biden is considering working with private firms to spy on Americans without a warrant.
Biden and his administration are reportedly using private firms to monitor “extremist chatter by Americans online” in order to circumvent laws that prevent the federal government from performing surveillance without a warrant.
The report said the federal government is also banned from using false identities to gain access to private messaging apps and groups. The government can scan public social media profiles.
“The plan being discussed inside DHS, according to multiple sources, would, in effect, allow the department to circumvent laws that limit what the federal government can do in surveilling U.S. citizens without a warrant,” CNN reported.
“A source familiar with the effort said it is not about decrypting data but rather using outside entities who can legally access these private groups to gather large amounts of information that could help DHS identify key narratives as they emerge.”
The report claimed that the private firms that the Biden administration is considering using would “act as middlemen” to obtain the information, which would consist of “broad summaries or analysis of narratives that are emerging on these sites” and would not “target specific individuals.”
However, some of these firms use fake identities to access the private social media spaces that the government can’t access, which could cause potential legal headaches for the administration.
“We are exploring with our lawyers, civil rights, civil liberties and privacy colleagues, how we can make use of outside expertise,” a DHS official commented, referring to the department’s efforts related to encrypted applications.
“Gathering information on US citizens — no matter how abhorrent their beliefs — raises instant constitutional and legal challenges,” the report added. “Civil liberties advocates and privacy hawks have long criticized any efforts to collect even publicly available information on Americans in bulk as a violation of Americans’ First and Fourth Amendment rights.”
Privacy advocates on the Hill have already questioned the Defense Intelligence Agency’s previously questionable efforts to get around restrictions on collecting Americans’ location data without a warrant by purchasing that data from commercially-available databases.
The Biden admin plan has faces massive backlash from people on both sides of the aisle – including former intelligence officials.
Bryan Dean Wright, a Democrat and former CIA officer, wrote: “Joe Biden wants to ‘partner’ with the private sector to conduct surveillance because the Govt can’t do it without a warrant or ongoing investigation. This is monstrous.”
Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows responded: “They spied on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and skated by with no consequences… and now they want to spy on you too. This is a chilling, terrible idea that should be roundly rejected.”
“The government outsourcing warrantless domestic spying of American citizens to outside corporations doesn’t make it any less dangerous, unconstitutional or illegal,” political strategist Andrew Surabian wrote. “Do any pol[iticians] have the courage to stand up to an increasingly lawless & authoritarian national security state?”
Author: Jeffrey Theaves