Members of the House Committee on Homeland Security have lately worried that federal agents have held on to seized phones for months.
The FBI declined to comment on the details of the operation, citing the “ongoing nature” of cases like this. It maintained that the Portland activity met “all of our legal requirements,” and that it had “not been focused on peaceful protests.”
Those claims might not be enough to satisfy some critics. Senator Ron Wyden has demanded clarity on FBI and Homeland Security activity in Portland, saying that it would be “outrageous” if Oregon residents faced federal surveillance like phone exploits due solely to their politics. Without transparency, it’s not certain that the FBI or DHS respected protesters’ digital rights.