The US government has set up a new tumblr of declassified documents as part of attempts to reassure the public on what data the NSA and other agencies collect on them. The site, IC On The Record, aims to “declassify and make public as much information as possible about certain sensitive NSA programs while being mindful of the need to protect sensitive classified intelligence and national security,” NSA director James Clapper writes in a launch statement.
The site is particularly topical, given today’s declassification of a FISA court ruling from 2011 in which the chief judge deemed NSA data collection activities as part of PRISM unconstitutional. The data-gathering and -storage had been of “wholly domestic” US emails and other electronic communication, something not permitted by the original FISA court orders.
As a result of the original PRISM fall-out, in which allegations of widespread electronic spying from whistleblower Edward Snowden suggested the US government had secret data-mining agreements with multiple high-profile firms, President Obama announced plans for greater transparency in when and how collection took place. “The site will address methods of collection, use of collected data, and oversight and compliance” Clapper says.
The NSA director has not always been so enthusiastic about a greater degree of openness about the agency’s operations, however. Back in the early days after the first claims were made public, Clapper slammed reports for “numerous inaccuracies” that, the outspoken chief insisted, were potentially dangerous to US security.
The first batch of documents to be shared comprise the 2011 court ruling by Judge Bates, in which the NSA supposedly “advised the court that the volume and nature of the information it has been collecting is fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe.”
However, the site also lists what documents are in the pipeline, including several records from statements before the House Permanent Select Committee about intelligence gathering, a response to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein on FISA activities, and various documents on the guidelines the NSA operates under.