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Government Privacy Cellphones United States Technology

NSA Collected Americans' Phone Records Despite Law Change, Says Report (reuters.com) 122

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. National Security Agency collected more than 151 million records of Americans' phone calls last year, even after Congress limited its ability to collect bulk phone records, according to an annual report issued on Tuesday by the top U.S. intelligence officer. The report from the office of Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was the first measure of the effects of the 2015 USA Freedom Act, which limited the NSA to collecting phone records and contacts of people U.S. and allied intelligence agencies suspect may have ties to terrorism. It found that the NSA collected the 151 million records even though it had warrants from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court to spy on only 42 terrorism suspects in 2016, in addition to a handful identified the previous year. The report came as Congress faced a decision on whether to reauthorize Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which permits the NSA to collect foreign intelligence information on non-U.S. persons outside the United States, and is scheduled to expire at the end of this year.
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NSA Collected Americans' Phone Records Despite Law Change, Says Report

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    They want to track us. We want to know about it. And so proceeds ad infinitum.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Terrorists need to be well funded if they make that many phonecalls

    • Yes they are... but there is a feeble effort [congress.gov] being made to change that...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    He was in charge. No repercussions. That's all you need to know.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @09:27AM (#54348007)

    42 warrants, 151 million conversations collected. Maybe it's time to downsize NSA? When an agency operates outside of its legal scope it's receiving a much larger budget than necessary, is not operating with the public consent and it is therefore illegal. You can not do anything you want and attempt to hide under the guise of national security, cowards do that. I don't want to think of my government as being run by cowards. Those kind of numbers are not just alarming, they prove we are currently living in a West Germany style country. Mass surveillance is unacceptable in any democratic country that has any semblance of right and wrong. This kind of program is untenable and unacceptable for a democratic country.

  • by evolutionary ( 933064 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @09:28AM (#54348025)
    the CIA has been breaking laws for quite some time. It will take a GIANT public stink before the CIA stops blatantly breaking laws in the name of well...whatever it wants to justify it's behavior with at the time. (Now it's "national security" back in the 50-60's it was "fighting communism"). When Kennedy tried to get the CIA on more government reins...well we know what happened to him.
  • by SCVonSteroids ( 2816091 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @09:32AM (#54348049)

    There's no way an honest group of people like the NSA would ever do such a thing!

  • Including Trump's (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "But Trump is lying when he says Obama was spying on him!"

    - Said someone who hasn't heard of Edward Snowden

  • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @09:40AM (#54348091)

    Things like this seriously undermine the credibility of anyone who claims that the US is still a 'nation under the rule of law'.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @09:43AM (#54348111)

    If there are no repercussions for agencies that break laws then they will just continue breaking them. If you allow agencies to continue breaking laws then your government loses credibility. Governments without credibility are prone to upheaval and a loss of the rule of law.

    • Governments without credibility are prone to upheaval...

      That would depend on how well-entrenched they are... look at the Vatican; they still exist.

    • And if they somehow (cough cough) manage to weasel their way out of getting convicted, bar the middle-managers on up from ever holding another government position/job.

      This is, what, the third or fourth time we've heard "okay okay, we swear this time we're really stopping it, for real," and then found out a little later no, they actually didn't. At this point it's a rogue agency, as they clearly don't give a wet slap what the authorities are telling them to do. Dissolve the entire thing and make a new agency

  • consequences... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    And people will be going to prison for this in 3, 2, 1....

    Shit. Let's try again. Like any other person violating the CFAA they will be held accountable in 3, 2, 1....

    Shit, still nothing. How about violations of the 4th amendment? 3, 2, 1...

    Nope.

    Well, I guess that's that. they are truly above the law.

  • Thanks Obama! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @10:23AM (#54348369)

    This is what allows Susan Rice to "unmask" US citizens: using the power of the state against its citizenry.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How much jail time for the guys responsible? That's all I want to know. 1 yr per incident? That would be fine.

    Assume 100 yrs per life and start at the top, arresting, trying and jailing everyone in the organization.

  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @10:39AM (#54348483) Homepage Journal

    The NSA is clearly going to do whatever they feel like doing, laws be damned.

    Congress needs to take a break from legislation and focus on enforcement for awhile. Then once the NSA is back to actually following the laws they pass, then get back to legislating. Until then, you're just wasting your time passing new laws. Don't renew their inch, they're just going to laugh at you and take another foot. If you're not going to hold them accountable, at least show them the "power of the purse" - cut their funding so they simply can't afford to keep breaking the law.

    • is prosecutions for breaking the law. You can't prosecute somebody if they didn't break the law. If you don't like it call your congress critter. While you're at it tell them to end the war in Iraq & Afghanistan. Finally, tell you you vote, vote in primaries, and if you don't hear that they've done what you told them you'll be voting against them in the primary. Congress folks don't care about the General, they've gerrymandered their districts so they'll always win. They're terrified of losing their pri
  • If there was a law change. Then that means that mass surveilling people is a violation of the computer fraud and abuse act.
    Go and arrest these guys, prosecute them, then put them in prison for 5 to 10 years.

  • Records, not content (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Records -- not content.

    Smith v Maryland (1979) holds that phone call records, as "business records" provided to a third party, do not have an expectation of privacy and are not protected by the Fourth Amendment. In order for this to change, Congress needs to act, or SCOTUS will need to speak again on the matter -- the nature of which admittedly has changed in the ensuing 38 years.

    Targeted collection of communications *content* of US Persons anywhere in the world requires an individualized warrant.

    Additional

  • by neuro88 ( 674248 ) on Wednesday May 03, 2017 @01:49PM (#54349743)
    This totally wouldn't be happening if Hillary had been elected.

    Sarcasm aside, I hope more and more people are starting to get that we're being screwed by both sides of the aisle.

    Bleh.
  • It's much bigger than that.

    This is only for the specified intel programs.

    They didn't include the mil side intel.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Yes the way out is to say a person had four hops of contact with a person who is not a US citizen.
      Got a message from outside the USA, sent a message to someone outside the USA.
      Was seen near a base, mil site, sensitive site. Walking, driving near any protest.
      A persons phone was detected near an anti war protest. The anti war protest had an "international" connection.
      Download software. Used a browser to look at computer site that had code with an "international" connection.
      Its a bit like the Vietnam

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