At a time when congressional oversight is perhaps more important than ever (yes, we’re talking threat level fake-tan orange), the legislative branch appears resigned, if not willing, to overlook the abuses of federal agencies. As required by the 2015 USA FREEDOM Act, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) published its annual transparency report on the NSA’s 2017 surveillance activities. While the release was met with little fanfare, the report’s content is alarming: the NSA collected over three times the number of call records it did in 2016; warrantless surveillance under FISA Section 702 also surged some 20 percent. At the same time, the report suggests the government is depending less on surveillance authorities requiring a court order. While this might sound like a good thing, it’s not. The drop likely indicates the government is simply circumventing congressional restrictions on surveillance. All this points to the need for increased oversight and renewed demands for transparency. Congress must investigate the details of this report and call upon the administration to explain other worrying developments regarding surveillance, including the establishment of the National Vetting Center and proposals for continuous, automated surveillance of social media activities. Congress, we’re watching you watch them watch us, and we demand action. We repeat, the NSA collected over three times the number of call records it did in 2016; warrantless surveillance under FISA Section 702 also surged some 20 percent.

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