It’s been an eventful week in Washington and, amidst the shutdown shenanigans, Congress did something significant: they renewed a law that lets intelligence agencies collect a massive trove of communication data, which includes everything from Facebook messages to Gmail accounts to browser histories.

This surveillance process–think of it as a permanent suction tube plugged into big tech companies and overseas Internet cables–first came to light with Edward Snowden’s explosive revelations in 2013, but was going on well before that. And now it’s set to continue into at least 2024.

The question for Americans is how much they should worry about all this. While the idea of massive government surveillance sounds sinister, the reality is that the U.S. (unlike China) has a robust legal system to protect the privacy of its citizens.

In the case of the powerful spying law, known as Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, the surveillance power is directed at foreigners, not Americans. While there have been reports of the NSA and FBI using backdoor measures to target U.S. citizens, such incidents have hardly been pervasive.

As the Lawfare blog–a site that has done stupendous work in tracking and explaining arcane Section 702 events–reported, there may …read more

Source:: Fortune.com – Tech

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