Dustin Volz, reporting for Reuters: A top U.S. intelligence official said Thursday a controversial surveillance law that allows the broad electronic spying of foreigners played a major role in understanding Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election. The statement from Admiral Mike Rogers, the director of the U.S. National Security Agency, may bolster efforts by intelligence agencies to fully preserve the authority, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, before it expires at the end of the year. Privacy advocates have for years said Section 702 allows for excessively broad surveillance, including warrantless access to some American communications, and should be reformed to include new curbs. “I would highlight much, not all, much of what was in the intelligence community’s assessment, for example, on the Russian efforts against the U.S. election process in 2016, was informed by knowledge we gained through (Section) 702 authority,” Rogers said. Rogers said allowing the statute to expire on Dec. 31, unless Congress votes to reauthorize it, would degrade U.S. intelligence agencies’ ability to provide “timely warning and insight” on a variety of criminal and national security threats.
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