Can government surveillance be more transparent?


What have you always wondered about government surveillance? Help the WikiTribune community report on this global issue by using EDIT STORY or offer suggestions via TALK

A partisan firestorm exploded in February when Rep. Devin Nunes declassified a memo claiming the FBI unethically obtained a surveillance order to spy on Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign. 

The document provided no evidence for the allegations, nor did it seem to expose any sensitive information. Which begs the question why these documents were classified in the first place, and why it takes a presidential decree for the public to see them.

Senator Ron Wyden, an advocate of more transparency in government surveillance, said in a tweet that “selective classification is used more often to deceive” Americans rather than “protect them.”

The “Russian probe” has reintroduced the discussion on how congress oversees government surveillance, and if Americans should be shielded from how these spying operations are conducted.

This WikiProject is dedicated to brainstorming how we can best report on issues concerning government surveillance. Our reporting does not need to be limited to the United States.

Questions to explore:

  • What oversight powers does congress have in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)? This is the law that the FBI used to obtain a surveillance order for Trump campaign official Carter Page
    • FISA demands that federal authorities go through a more rigorous process to obtain surveillance orders for individuals, rather than the mass-surveillance exposed by Edward Snowden. PRISM and other mass-surveillance programs are under Section 702, which gives the government broad discretion.
  • How does the government decide what is classified? Is there a way to ensure less “overclassification”, so that the public has access to important yet non-sensitive information?
  • Add more questions using EDIT STORY

Sources to interview:

  • Alex Marthews, National Chair of Restore the Fourth, an organization that advocates for more oversight in mass-government surveillance.
  • Add more suggested sources using EDIT STORY

Help the WikiTribune community report on government surveillance by using EDIT STORY. Or offer suggestions with TALK. 

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