NSA reveals 'transparency report': agency targeted 'just' 248 Americans in 2013
28 June 2014, 14:02 -- Friday, the NSA released its first ever report about how it uses its broad surveillance authorities called 'Statistical Transparency Report Regarding Use of National Security Authorities.' According to it, the NSA performed queries for just 248 'known or presumed US persons' in 2013, despite collecting the phone records of nearly every American, which had been earlier revealed by the Guardian based on the leaks from Edward Snowden.
The pressure that resulted from revelations of that massive data collection has prompted the Obama administration to oblige the NSA to get judicial orders in order to 'call data records' from the phone companies. But due to the fact that thousands of such records can be obtained based on a single order, civil rights activists doubt that the new law will put an end to 'bulk collection' of phone records.
The statistics report reveals that under a single order in 2013 pursuant to a 2008 law permitting NSA to obtain Americans' international calls without individually specified warrants, the agency collected data of 89,138 'targets.'
Meanwhile, those 'targets' are not necessarily individual people. The report explains that a 'target' could be 'an individual person, a group or an organization composed of multiple individuals or a foreign power.' Such targets are counted once in the report although the NSA might collect data from 'multiple communications facilities' used by the target.
Some privacy advocates are skeptical about the accuracy of the NSA surveillance report. 'The numbers could be much greater, and made to look smaller because of what the intelligence community calls preserving intelligence programs,' said Amie Stepanovich of the digital rights group Access.
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