Sen. Wyden Asks FBI to Publish Information on Hacking Operations

December 21, 2022

In a letter to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, Sen. Ron Wyden requested that the FBI publish its policies governing its hacking operations, as well as provide annual aggregate statistics on the frequency of such operations. Sen. Wyden asked the FBI to provide a range of information, including statistics relating to the use of Network Investigative Techniques—the term the government uses for its hacking tools. Sen. Wyden also asked for information on why the FBI decided not to use the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware software, and whether a legal determination was made that would preclude the FBI’s future use of similar tools in the future. In doing so, Sen. Wyden underscored how little the public knows about the FBI’s activities, emphasizing that “[t]he FBI cannot continue to shroud in secrecy the rules that govern its hacking operations against Americans’ phones and computers.”

Earlier this year, EPIC submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the FBI seeking information about its connections to NSO Group and use of Pegasus spyware. The spyware has reportedly been used to target thousands of people and has been used to spy on French President Emmanuel Macron, Dubai’s Princess Latifa, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and many other prominent activists, academics, journalists. EPIC’s Project on Surveillance Oversight has long advocated against surveillance of digital devices.

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