On Tuesday, Senator Ron Wyden pressed FBI Director Christopher A. Wray to explain “the FBI’s hacking activities,” including those targeting American citizens.
Oregon Democrats have called on the FBI to hand over policies governing the agency’s hacking allegations and annual aggregate data detailing its activities.
“The FBI cannot continue to cover up the rules governing hacking activities against Americans’ phones and computers,” Wyden said in a letter to Wray. “Americans have a right to know the scale of the FBI’s hacking activity and the rules governing the use of this controversial surveillance technology.”
Wyden said the FBI has been using hacks for at least 20 years, but little information is known about what the agents are doing.
Wyden cited the 2007 FBI impersonation of an AP reporter as part of a bomb threat investigation and the 2013 FBI alleged hack of email services.
Most recently, Wyden said he took issue with the FBI’s use of NSO Group’s surveillance software or spyware products.
See also: FBI undercover program threatens national security with poor management and inadequate training, DOJ IG says
Regarding the FBI’s use of the NSO tool, an FBI spokesperson told The Washington Times in January that “there was no operational use in support of the investigation.” Instead, a spokesperson said the FBI has procured a limited license for product testing and evaluation.
However, the FBI was considering introducing a hacking tool in late 2020 or early 2021, according to a New York Times report in November, citing numerous internal FBI documents.
“By publishing internal policies governing the use of hacking tools, called Network Investigative Techniques, and by publishing aggregate statistics about remote search operations, the FBI can provide both the courts and the public with much-needed transparency. , should be provided: reports already released by governments on wiretapping and other surveillance tools such as pen registers,” Wyden wrote.
Wyden sought unclassified responses by the end of January.
The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.