An independent lawyer assigned to represent Americans’ privacy interests before the nation’s top-secret spy court failed to persuade a judge to block FBI agents from searching intelligence databases to hunt for evidence of traditional crimes rather than restricting them to national security probes, according to a newly declassified court opinion.

The ruling released Tuesday provides one of the first glimpses into how a 2015 bipartisan law aiming at reining in government intelligence-gathering is being implemented at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees requests for surveillance warrants from law enforcement agencies involving suspects inside the U.S.

In the aftermath of domestic surveillance programs exposed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, Congress last year passed the USA Freedom Act, which allowed certain information-gathering practices to continue, but created a privacy advocate to represent the public interest.

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