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NSA Declassifies Reports of Privacy Violations

Sputnik News

10:36 26.12.2014(updated 23:18 27.12.2014)

The US National Security Agency released intelligence documents covering NSA's unlawful activities in 2001-2013. The agency claims that the majority of violations were committed due to unintentional technical or human error, with a few cases involving intentional misuse.

MOSCOW, December 26 (Sputnik) – On Christmas Eve, the US National Security Agency released information on its surveillance activities that violated privacy of American citizens.

The heavily redacted intelligence documents were published on the agency's website in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

The documents, released to the Intelligence Oversight Board (IOB), include quarterly and annual reports submitted from 2001 to 2013, NSA said in a statement.

"The vast majority of compliance incidents involve unintentional technical or human error," the agency stated, adding that there were "very few cases that involve the intentional misuse of a signals intelligence system".

In one of such cases, a US Army sergeant spied on his wife using the NSA database, according to Fox News. Other instances of privacy violations include sending information on US citizens to unauthorized recipients, as well as storing it on unsecure computers, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

NSA said it conducted thorough investigation of such cases, reporting probe results to the IOB and the US Department of Justice. As a result, appropriate disciplinary or administrative action was taken, the agency said.

NSA also said it "goes to great lengths to ensure compliance with" the US Constitution and laws.

"By emphasizing accountability across all levels of the enterprise, and transparently reporting errors and violations to outside oversight authorities, NSA protects privacy and civil liberties while safeguarding the nation and our allies," the agency said in a statement.

ACLU believes NSA needs to improve its accountability. "The government conducts sweeping surveillance under this authority — surveillance that increasingly puts Americans' data in the hands of the NSA," Patrick C. Toomey, staff attorney with the ACLU's National Security Project, told Bloomberg. "Despite that fact, this spying is conducted almost entirely in secret and without legislative or judicial oversight," he added.

The Freedom of Information Act provides that any person has a right to request access to federal agency records, unless they are protected from disclosure with special exemptions. Other federal agencies, fugitives from law and representatives of foreign governments cannot request information under this act.

NSA's mass surveillance program caused domestic and international uproar in 2013 after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden disclosed thousands of classified documents relating to the activities of the intelligence agency.


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