NSA Broke Privacy Rules Thousands of Times Year, Many Unintentionally


The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad powers in 2008, says an internal audit and other top-secret documents quoted by the Washington Post. Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the U.S., both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. Documents provided to the Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance. In one document, agency personnel are told to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Director of National Intelligence. The NSA audit counted 2,776 incidents in one year of unauthorized collection, storage, access to, or distribution of legally protected communications. Most were unintended. Many involved failures of due diligence or violations of standard operating procedure. The most serious incidents included a violation of a court order and unauthorized use of data about more than 3,000 Americans and green-card holders.

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