Forbes: What’s To Come As Government Surveillance Sunsets With 2017? by Frank Miniter:
The FISA Amendments Act allows the National Security Agency (NSA) to view and copy emails and phone calls. It’s designed to let the NSA look for terrorists and other bad guys by spying on non-U.S. citizens, but it also allows the intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on the communications of an unknown number of Americans. They record and store these emails and more in a database law-enforcement agencies can search without first getting a warrant. These are often called “backdoor searches,” as they bypass Fourth Amendment protections of our privacy.
If you are wondering how many Americans our government has listened in on, sorry, the intelligence agencies told Congress they can’t say just how many American citizens have been eavesdropped on by the government (without warrants). Despite this, they asked Congress to simply renew the controversial section 702 of the Act before it expires at the end of December—they even asked that it be made permanent law.