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  NSA Backs Down on Major Surveillance Program That Captured Americans’ Communications Without a Warrant

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PostSubject: NSA Backs Down on Major Surveillance Program That Captured Americans’ Communications Without a Warrant   Mon May 01, 2017 1:06 am

The National Security Agency on Friday suddenly announced it is curtailing one of its major surveillance programs.



Under pressure from the secret court that oversees its practices, the NSA said its “upstream” program would no longer grab communications directly from the U.S. internet backbone “about” specific foreign targets — only communication to and from those targets.
This is a major change, essentially abandoning a bulk surveillance program that captured vast amounts of communications of innocent Americans – and turning instead to a still extensive but more targeted approach.
“This change ends a practice that could result in Americans’ communications being collected without a warrant merely for mentioning a foreign target,” Senator Ron Wyden said in a statement. “For years, I’ve repeatedly raised concerns that this amounted to an end run around the Fourth Amendment. This transparency should be commended. To permanently protect Americans’ rights, I intend to introduce legislation banning this kind of collection in the future.”
The “upstream” surveillance program is one of two controversial programs authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is scheduled to expire in December unless it is reauthorized by Congress. It was among several programs whose existence was a secret until being revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Until now, upstream was examining every Internet communication that traveled on the huge telecommunication cables going in and out of the U.S., searching through every word, grabbing sometimes very big chunks of data that included even a single mention of a specific target, and then putting everything into a database for NSA analysts to look through.
Communications between people, including Americans, was being captured and examined not because they were suspected of anything, but because of what they were saying. And the program wasn’t even efficient at limiting it to that.
The NSA statement on Friday said the move came “after a comprehensive review of mission needs, current technological constraints, United States person privacy interests, and certain difficulties in implementation.”
But reading between the lines, it wasn’t voluntary.

https://theintercept.com/2017/04/28/nsa-backs-down-on-major-surveillance-program-that-captured-americans-communications-without-a-warrant/
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