Silver Lining

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Leaked documents show NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times

Al Ahed news

The US National Security Agency has broken privacy rules thousands of times each year since 2008, according to leaked documents published by the Washington Post.

Most of the breaches ranged from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of US emails and telephone calls, the Post reported.

The American daily published these top-secret documents leaked by the former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is currently living in Russia after the country had granted him a year-long asylum.

The documents included a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance, the daily mentioned.

In one of the documents, agency personnel are instructed to remove details and substitute more generic language in reports to the Justice Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Moreover, The Post reported that the NSA audit, dated May 2012, counted 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications.

“We’re a human-run agency operating in a complex environment with a number of different regulatory regimes, so at times we find ourselves on the wrong side of the line,” a senior NSA official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Post.

Moreover, in what the Post said appeared to be one of the most serious violations, the NSA diverted large volumes of international data passing through fiber-optic cables in the United States into a repository where the material could be stored temporarily for processing and selection.

The operation collected and commingled US and foreign emails. NSA lawyers told the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that the agency could not practicably filter out the communications of Americans.

In October 2011, months after the program got underway, the court ruled that the collection effort was unconstitutional.

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