More Details on NSA Data Collection Controversy

The program collected mass amounts of email data for a decade.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden has apparently provided another document on data collection policies at the National Security Agency (NSA) to The Guardian. According to the report, the U.S. collected mass amounts of email metadata between 2001 and 2011.

The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald and Spencer Ackerman reported, "The Obama administration for more than two years permitted the National Security Agency to continue collecting vast amounts of records detailing the email and internet usage of Americans, according to secret documents obtained by the Guardian. The documents indicate that under the program, launched in 2001, a federal judge sitting on the secret surveillance panel called the Fisa court would approve a bulk collection order for internet metadata 'every 90 days.' A senior administration official confirmed the program, stating that it ended in 2011."

Ars Technica's Joe Mullin noted that the email metadata collected "includes the names on the 'To,' 'From,' and 'BCC' lines of every e-mail. It also includes the Internet protocol (IP) addresses, which show the physical location of most e-mail users. Given the way e-mail works, such metadata could reveal a huge amount of information about the user: not just who they're e-mailing, but where they are, what they're reading and sharing, and what kind of ads they might be responding to."

Charlie Savage and James Risen with The New York Times added, "The March 2004 confrontation in the hospital room of Attorney General John Ashcroft — a dramatic point in the Bush administration’s internal debate over warrantless surveillance — was apparently set off by a secret National Security Agency program that was vacuuming up 'metadata' logs of Internet communications, according to a draft of a 2009 N.S.A. inspector general report obtained by the British newspaper The Guardian. The report, the latest document given to the paper by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden, may clear up a long-running mystery over which program White House officials wanted Mr. Ashcroft and other Justice Department officials to sign off on when they went to his Washington hospital room."

Deborah Charles and Mark Hosenball with Reuters observed, "The director of the U.S. National Security Agency on Thursday offered a more detailed breakdown of 54 schemes by militants that he said were disrupted by phone and internet surveillance, even as a British newspaper offered evidence of more extensive spying. In a speech in Baltimore, NSA chief General Keith Alexander said the list of cases turned over recently to Congress included 42 that involved disrupted plots and 12 in which surveillance targets provided material support to terrorism."

Tags: email, metadata, NSA, data collection

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