Once again, the National Security Agency has been caught illegally collecting the phone data of Americans. This news comes just months after a similar incident forced them to (supposedly) purge hundreds of millions of records captured without FISA authorization.
According to RT, the government spy agency unlawfully gathered a “larger than expected” volume of call and text records from one United States telecom provider under the metadata-collection program known as Section 215. According to a document obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) as part of its ongoing lawsuit against the agency, the heavily redacted file does not reveal which company was affected, or how many of its “call detail records” were illegally collected between October 3 and 12, 2018.
“These documents further confirm that this surveillance program is beyond redemption and a privacy and civil liberties disaster,” ACLU National Security Project staff attorney Patrick Toomey told the Associated Press as reported by RT.“There is no justification for leaving this surveillance power in the NSA’s hands.” The NSA, unsurprisingly, in its own internal documents assessed the blunder’s “impact on national security or international relations” to be “none.” Critics of the program, formerly known as StellarWind, have pointed to its acknowledged failure to stop a single terror event. Terrorism was the agency’s official rationale for eavesdropping on 3 billion phone calls every day. That’s just one of many reasons the entire agency, not just its programs, should be scrapped.
The agency “will assess the scope of the civil liberties and privacy impact of this incident upon completion of the investigation,” the report promises, though an “initial assessment is that the impact was limited given the quick identification, purge processes, and lack of reporting.” Journalist Ben Swann is not letting the NSA off the hook. “If there is no accountability for those who continue to break the law – because that’s what they’re doing – then why would they ever stop doing that?” Swann pondered.
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