Senators: NSA must correct inaccurate claims over privacy protections

The Guardian reports: Two senators on the intelligence committee on Monday accused the National Security Agency of publicly presenting “inaccurate” information about the privacy protections on its surveillance on millions of internet communications.

However, in a demonstration of the intense secrecy surrounding NSA surveillance even after Edward Snowden’s revelations, the senators claimed they could not publicly identify the allegedly misleading section or sections of a factsheet without compromising classified information.

Senators Ron Wyden (Democrat, Oregon) and Mark Udall (Democrat, Colorado) wrote to General Keith Alexander, the director of the NSA, to correct “inaccurate” portrayals about restrictions on surveillance published in a factsheet available on the NSA’s homepage. The factsheet, concerning NSA’s powers under Section 702 of the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act, was also supplied to members of Congress.

“We were disappointed to see that this factsheet contains an inaccurate statement about how the section 702 authority has been interpreted by the US government,” Wyden and Udall wrote to Alexander, in a letter dated 24 June and acquired by the Guardian. [Continue reading…]

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1 thought on “Senators: NSA must correct inaccurate claims over privacy protections

  1. rackstraw

    I am surprised not to have seen, anywhere, any commentary about certain implications the first Prism slide “U.S. As World’s Telecommunications Backbone”.

    The bullet points say this:

    “* Much of the world’s communications flow through the U.S.”

    “* A target’s phone call, email or chat will take the cheapest path, not the physiology most direct path.”

    “* Your target’s communications could easily be flowing into an through the U.S.”

    By the same token, therefore, it would not be unusual to find some percentage of U.S.-U.S. communications flowing through “foreign” switches, because a circuitous route using excess capacity is going to be generally cheaper than the direct route. And not all packets are going to follow the same path.

    In conjunction with the so-called “Minimization” order of the FISA court (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/interactive/2013/jun/20/exhibit-b-nsa-procedures-document) and with a little lawyering, the NSA can then “legally” consider any communication that passes through some “foreign” switch as fair game – even if one endpoint is in Chicago, and the other in Detroit, and part of it passes though a Canadian router.

    Or how about data sent though communications satellites, which are in geosynchronous orbit around they Equator? They’re certainly foreign too, aren’t they?

    And NSA certainly have the ability to cause some part of any targeted communication to be diverted – in real time – through a “foreign” switch – say by hacking and manipulating both routers and router databases, which may be updated many times per second.

    And even if only one packet containing a split second of voice or data is so routed, guess what? It’s terrorists all the way down.

    It’s not as though there’s anyone actually supervising them; or that they fear punishment for going too far; or as if they actually give a fig for human rights or legality – it’s all about just going through the motions.

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