Monday, August 19, 2013

NSA Broke Privacy Rules Thousands of Times Per Year, Audit Finds

The Washington Post (08/15/13) Barton Gellman 

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has violated privacy rules or overreached its authority thousands of times annually since 2008, primarily through unauthorized surveillance of American and foreign intelligence targets in the U.S., according to an internal audit and other documents. The infractions include major violations of law as well as typographical errors that led to misdirected interception of U.S. emails and telephone calls. One of the documents, provided to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden earlier this summer, instructs NSA workers to eliminate details in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The May 2012 internal audit found 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to, or distribution of legally protected communications. "We're a human-run agency operating in a complex environment with a number of different regulatory regimes, so at times we find ourselves on the wrong side of the line," says a senior NSA official. "You can look at it as a percentage of our total activity that occurs each day. You look at a number in absolute terms that looks big, and when you look at it in relative terms, it looks a little different."
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