04 May, 2017
The National Security Agency (NSA) in 2016 agreed to nearly 2,000 requests from officials within the government to reveal the identities of USA persons caught up in foreign surveillance, according to an annual transparency report released on Tuesday. Privacy advocates suggest the law is too broad and wide-ranging, allowing the NSA to collect everything from internet activity to phone communications without the need first to obtain a warrant. (At that time the agency could scoop up "billions of records per day", said one 2014 study.) The figure of "151 million" is also misleading, said the NSA, as it counts multiple calls made to or from the same phone number.
The United States passed the USA Freedom Act in 2015 that was created to curb mass surveillance programs that the U.S. agencies engaged in since the September 11 attacks. The goal of the report was to measure the effects of the 2015 USA Freedom Act.
Never miss a story again - sign up to our Telegram channel and we'll keep you up to speed! The report shows that in 2016 the NSA received warrants to collect such information on only 46 terrorism suspects.
By "targets", the report says, it refers to individuals, groups or even foreign nations that use a particular telephone number or email address.
We are perhaps supposed to feel better by knowing that the 151 million records of Americans gobbled up past year included multiple calls made from or to the same phone numbers.
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As Reuters points out, the reports comes when the Congress prepares to trigger again Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - a part that allows the NSA to collect information on foreign persons located overseas.
Both Republican and Democratic members of the congressional intelligence committees have said that so far they have found no evidence to support either allegation.
It's got to do with the "hops": for example, if a target phone number calls another phone number, that's one hop. They said they had no breakdown of how many individuals' phone records were among those collected. And we should find out what the hell is going on, ' he said. Under the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), orders with the tag "probable cause" issued on a yearly basis remained steady for the most part, with 1,559 orders issued by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) applying to an estimated 1,687 targets, 336 of whom are labeled "US persons".
USA officials on Tuesday argued the 151 million records collected previous year were tiny compared with the number gathered under procedures that were stopped after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the surveillance programme in 2013. However, the report failed to mention how often the NSA shared information with the FBI and other intelligence agencies when conducting investigations.