NSA violated court standards with database searches for 3 years, docs reveal

Sep 10, 2013
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Court documents released today show that the NSA breached privacy protections from 2006 to 2009 by failing to hold itself up to standards ordered by court in regards to database searches. These databases contain phone records, and the violations did not end until the program was overhauled by a judge's order in 2009.

Edward Snowden first leaked records revealing that the NSA was collecting vast batches of phone numbers, something that led to public uproar and prompted the government agency to state that all searches must be backed by "reasonable articulable suspicion" that the numbers are associated with terrorists or terrorist organizations.

This was not the case as recently as 2009, however, with the court documents showing that the NSA searched nearly 18,000 phone numbers against phone records, and of those numbers a mere 1,935 met the requirement for reasonable suspicion. This was despite claiming to follow the court-mandated requirements set forth to keep its powers at bay.

The breaches eventually led to Judge Reggie Walton stating that the NSA "frequently and systematically violated" the requirements and that it "never functioned effectively." Furthermore, he also said the government's submissions contained "repeated inaccurate statements." Such revelations shed light on the extensive nature of the admitted "errors" the NSA has had.

The mistakes were said to have been the result of unintentional actions, with those involved with the agency failing to understand the NSA's program. In fact, one judge stated that "from a technical standpoint, there was no single person [in the NSA's program] who had a complete technical understanding" of the system.

In addition to phone records, the documents also reveal the NSA grabbed some credit card info via certain phone records.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal


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