Day by day, the surveillance state that is the present day United States of America continues to grow. But as groups such as WikiLeaks have shown just how far the surveillance state extends, there has been growing pushback. The USA Freedom Act of 2015 was passed to limit the NSA’s ability to collect records in bulk, but a recent transparency report has raised questions as to how effective it really has been.
In the following video, Right Wing News looks at the report, which showed that in 2016 the NSA managed to collect 151 million phone records. And the number of warrants they had in 2016? Just 42! At the end of this year, the law that authorizes the NSA to collect foreign intelligence information is scheduled to expire, and of course, they are pushing for reauthorization on the grounds of national security. Considering that the NSA gets around the domestic surveillance issue by ‘outsourcing’ it to foreign intelligence agencies on a quid pro quo basis, should the law be reauthorized?
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The U.S. National Security Agency collected more than 151 million records of Americans’ phone calls in 2016 despite a law designed to curb bulk surveillance programs, a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence revealed.
DO NOT MISS: What is the NSA Up to Now? (Video)
The figures come from the annual transparency report and is the first since the passage of the 2015 USA Freedom Act, which was designed to limit the NSA’s ability to collect phone records in bulk.
Even under the revised law, which only allows the NSA to collect call metadata about individuals who have suspected ties to terrorism, the NSA was able to gather more than 151 million phone records despite having warrants for just 42 individuals in 2016 — and just a handful more from the year prior.
Reuters reported NSA officials have pushed back against the notion the agency was still collecting massive amounts of information from Americans. The officials argued the 151 million records collected represented a fraction of the number that previously were gathered by the organization.
They also noted the 151 million phone records were not all from unique numbers. The total includes multiple calls made to or from the same phone numbers. However, neither the NSA nor the transparency report provided figures on just how many individual phone numbers were involved.
While the NSA chose not to disclose just how many Americans were caught in the agency’s collection net, the 151 million records gathered likely represent a significant cutback in the program.
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A 2014 study published by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board published by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board found the NSA was capable of collecting “billions of records per day.”
The report on the NSA’s data collection comes at a crucial time as the controversial law that grants the NSA the ability to carry out bulk surveillance remains under fire. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is the subject of significant debate in Congress, with a newfound push to reform the rule that permits the NSA to collect foreign intelligence information on non-U.S. citizens living or traveling outside the U.S.
The law is scheduled to expire at the end of this year, and debate over its potential reauthorization has grown contentious. Advocates are pushing for reauthorization, suggesting Section 702 is an essential tool for gathering intelligence and protecting the country. 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.
Last week, perhaps in response to the renewed scrutiny of its practices, the NSA announced it would end its practice of warrantless collection of digital communications from Americans who merely mention a target of foreign intelligence.
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