By the look of things, the NSA will not give up its habits of collecting data about consumers anytime soon. Although a new law has gone into effect in 2015 – the Freedom Act – it has done very little to thwart NSA’s mass surveillance techniques. In fact, the agency recorded 151 million phone calls in 2016 alone. The bigger question is what they plan to do with all of this data.
NSA’s Data Collection Remains Problematic
No one in the United States should consider themselves safe from mass surveillance by the NSA right now. The new report issued by the Office of the Director of national intelligence confirms as much. Despite the USA Freedom Act of 2015 going into effect a while ago, the agency still collects phone records and calls without batting an eye. That is quite a problematic development, as it is a clear invasion of consumer privacy.
The numbers for 2016 are quite worrisome, to say the least. Considering how “only” 42 terrorist suspects have been identified by the NSA in 2016, they collected over 150 million phone records. The ration of found suspects to the amount of phone calls collected is unjustifiably low. This goes to show the NSA is still performing its mass surveillance even though the USA Freedom Act of 2015 was designed and approved to put an end to these actions. So far, that law has had no immediate impact.
Moreover, this goes to show the NSA does not play by everyone’s rulebook either. Court orders were issued for surveillance of these terrorist suspects alone. Every other phone record not related to these individuals is unlawful evidence collected by the government agency, which seemingly continues to act without oversight. If even US laws can’t stop the agency from doing as they please, it is doubtful anyone else on the planet will be able to have more success in this regard.
The news comes at a critical time in US history, as Congress is planning to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act. To be more specific, this section controls the warrantless surveillance program. While this law should expire at the end of 2017, that may not be the case in a few months.
This particular section lets agencies collect information on US citizens as long as the target of such an investigation is a foreigner in communication with someone in the states. Having this law reinstated for another few years will only allow the NSA to conduct even more surveillance. Speaking of which, the agency claims a large portion of their 2016 contain duplicates, although privacy advocates do not pay much attention to that claim.
It is intriguing to note how the NSA claims they halted the warrantless collection of American’s emails late last week. However, it appears they still kept tabs on phone records, which makes them one of the largest surveillance entities in the entire world. It is evident something needs to change sooner or later, yet it is doubtful that will be the case in the long run.
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