james clapper

The NSA has No Clue How Many Americans it Spies On, Expresses Desire to Help FBI

Before Congress reauthorizes laws allowing the National Security Agency to monitor electronic communications of hundreds of millions of people in search of foreign threats, it wants answers.

For one, how many Americans’ data has been swept up in this vast surveillance program?

James Clapper, National Intelligence Director, said they do not know, but are looking at several ways to glean this data. The problem is, in order to analyze the data and find out how many Americans it’s spying on, the NSA would likely subject Americans to further privacy invasions.

“Even a rough estimate of the number of U.S. persons impacted by these programs will help us to evaluate” how pervasive the collection of Americans’ data is, 14 members of the House Judiciary Committee wrote to Clapper last week.

For four years, US senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall have been pressing the NSA for an estimate of how many Americans’ emails and phone calls are being collected.

Although the NSA insists its programs are strictly used to target foreigners, it announced its desire to begin sharing raw communication data with FBI agents and other domestic law enforcement officials.

“Our employees are trained to not look for US persons,” Rebecca Richards, NSA privacy and civil liberties officer told The Hill in March. “We’re not interested in those US persons. We’re trying to look away from those.”

A secret 2015 court ruling was unsealed this week, revealing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts’ decision to formally approve warrantless spying for general criminal investigations in the US. These revelations have prompted dozens of advocacy groups to write intelligence officials that they are (again) circumventing constitutional protections and “pose new threats to the privacy and civil liberties of ordinary Americans,” reports Defense One.

Political support for surveillance of this nature is fading. Privacy advocates experienced a major victory last summer when Congress passed the USA Freedom Act. An overwhelming bipartisan vote thwarted the NSA’s bulk collection of phone metadata, like numbers, call time and duration for US citizens.

As for this current battle, privacy advocates claim the benefits of a one-time invasion of privacy outweigh the risks of not knowing how many Americans are subject to surveillance.

 

Posted in General News

Tags: NSA, expectation of privacy, data surveillance, spying

Print

This Week on FEDtalk

Navigating Plans for Summer with the National Park Service

Do you know what you are doing this summer? To find out what our National Parks have to offer, tune in to FEDtalk this Friday and start planning your trip!

Read more ...

Hear it from FLEOA

FLEOA Highlights Important Policy, People During Police Week

The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) is continually committed to serving our members and the federal law enforcement community. This Police Week, FLEOA has dedicated special time and attention to pushing policy that helps the law enforcement community protect and serve their community. From events highlighting the importance of police to meetings on the Hill, FLEOA is excited to engage the public and policy makers on law enforcement issues during this time of heightened awareness.

Read more ...
FEDagent

FEDagent.com

The free weekly e-report for Federal Law Enforcement

Get in touch with us

Email FEDagent publisher

Copyright 2019 FEDagent.com
Hosted by Peak Media Company, LLC