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Home / US / Repeated errors in the capture of telephone data led to the NSA launching a controversial closure program

Repeated errors in the capture of telephone data led to the NSA launching a controversial closure program



The National Security Agency erased millions of phone records from Americans after learning that some of the data was wrongly collected last fall under a controversial anti-terror program.

This was the second such procedure This led to an "overrun" last year and to the Agency's decision to close the program earlier this year, which has not yet been publicly acknowledged. This was stated by persons familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of openness of anonymity

The law approving this data collection, a scaled-down version of a program first published by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, is said to be published in the Expire on December.

The doubts about the usefulness of the collection go back to today and former officials. And records received by the American Civil Liberties Union in a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act show that it has more compliance issues than the government has publicly acknowledged.

"These documents just confirm that this monitoring program is no longer solvable and should be closed forever," said Patrick Toomey, the lawyer for the ACLU. "The Americans' collection of NSA call lists is too large, compliance issues are too large, and there's virtually no evidence of the value of the program, and there's no justification for leaving this power of surveillance in the hands of the NSA." [1

9659006] An NSA spokesman declined to comment on the fate of the program ACLU, an unidentified telephone company, provided the NSA with records that it should not have received – records that do not refer to terrorism suspects.

The NSA noted that "the effects were limited due to rapid identification, cleansing processes and lack of reporting," according to a report, but the incident was a last straw and prompted the agency to suspend the program.

An earlier case of one According to a compliance report, erroneous recording had a "significant" impact on civil liberties and privacy has not been stated publicly. It was considered important, a high-ranking intelligence official said, because of the amount of records received and not because interception was initiated as a result of these records.

Nevertheless, some legislators indicate that such issues are another reason why the data collection agency should do this.

"Any new incident such as this being publicized is another reason why this massive surveillance program needs to be permanently discarded," said Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), A member of the intelligence committee. "However, it is unacceptable that basic information about the program be withheld from the public. , , , Congress can not discuss the re-authorization of these returning authorities without a minimum of transparency.

According to Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, the NSA is entitled to collect records from US telephone companies about calls to and from suspects of foreign terrorism. The data shows who called whom and when, but does not contain any content. The program was designed to identify terrorist networks based on their call detail records.

It began in secret shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks when several large NSA telephone companies daily provided a feed of their domestic landline call records. Eventually, it was placed under the oversight of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which reviews national security surveillance inquiries, but it remained highly rated. When Snowden released the program in 2013, the public was so shocked that two years later Congress agreed it with the US Freedom Act.

Even before Snowden revealed it, the NSA had doubts about the utility of the program, current and former US officials said. It was expensive, and people switched from landlines to cell phones and internet-based calls. Until 2014, the agency collected only 30 percent of all American call records. And since then, terrorists have switched to encrypted communications services.

According to a former intelligence official, this was not the case in detecting terrorist networks.

often used, said a second former official. "Analysts were shy," the official said. "They did not want all that US personal information … It was a compliance nightmare."

The irony, said two former senior officials, is that the announcement of Snowden was likely to extend the life of the program There was a great desire to circle the cars, "the second officer said." If Snowden had not revealed it, the NSA would probably have disposed of it himself. "

The 2015 US Freedom Act ended the NSA's daily" mass gathering. " If agents had an indication of a terrorist suspect, they had to file a motion with the court and substantiate the need to obtain records of the suspect's phone number.

The change led to compliance issues, and freight forwarders had started billing by the minute The record fields changed constantly as services were added or deleted The NSA's efforts to build a reliable database made it difficult and difficult.

"These are not records intended for surveillance," said one industry manager. "These are records intended for internal management of the system."

The earlier over-coverage was publicly reported in June last year when the NSA announced that it had cleaned up its database of hundreds of millions of records from 2015 because analysts found out. Some airlines had sent records unrelated to terrorist suspects had to do.

In a previously unreported compliance incident, the NSA relied on some of the erroneously collected data to obtain additional court-ordered telephone records under the ACLU documents. These records were never used, said the senior intelligence officer.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which is part of the USA Freedom Act, authorizes more than just the call recording program. For example, the FBI uses it to collect data from a number of companies if it turns out that these data are "relevant" to ongoing national safety investigations. The White House has signaled that it may seek a permanent "clean" re-authorization of the law, where the call recording power remains intact. However, it has not addressed a formal request to Congress.


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