US: NSA to halt controversial data collection

National Security Agency to limit itself 'to internet communications that are sent directly to or from a foreign target'

US: NSA to halt controversial data collection

World Bulletin / News Desk

The National Security Agency (NSA) announced Friday it will stop collecting Americans' electronic communications that merely mention a foreign target.

The agency said it will limit collection "to internet communications that are sent directly to or from a foreign target".

"Even though NSA does not have the ability at this time to stop collecting 'about' information without losing some other important data, the Agency will stop the practice to reduce the chance that it would acquire communications of U.S. persons or others who are not in direct contact with a foreign intelligence target," the NSA said in a statement.

The agency's warrantless surveillance program has been a constant source of concern for civil liberties advocates since former contractor Edward Snowden disclosed damning aspects of it in 2013, prompting outrage in the U.S. and abroad.

Former President Barack Obama was forced to rein in the most controversial aspects of the program amid the widespread controversy.

The agency said the halt was sparked by an in-house review that "discovered several inadvertent compliance lapses".

Sen. Ron Wyden, who has been a vocal critical of the NSA's data collection practices, has said he will introduce legislation to codify the change.

"This change ends a practice that could result in Americans' communications being collected without a warrant merely for mentioning a foreign target,” Wyden said in a statement.

“For years, I've repeatedly raised concerns that this amounted to an end run around the Fourth Amendment.

“This transparency should be commended. To permanently protect Americans' rights, I intend to introduce legislation banning this kind of collection in the future," he added.

The NSA said it disclosed the violations to Congress and a special court that oversees the data collection program, and was ordered by the court to fix the program.

"As part of this curtailment, NSA will delete the vast majority of previously acquired upstream internet communications as soon as practicable," the agency said in a separate statement.

"Upstream internet communications" refers to information pertaining to, from or about a targeted foreign individual.

Noting that technical limitations currently prevent it from deleting all "about the target" information it possesses, the NSA said it nonetheless "has determined that in light of the factors noted, this change is a responsible and careful approach at this time".

Last Mod: 29 Nisan 2017, 00:24
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