With or Without the Patriot Act, Here’s How the NSA Can Still Spy on Americans

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What Americans think about NSA surveillance, national security and privacy
During the Barack Obama Administration , the NSA allegedly continued surveilling without warrants despite campaign promises to end the practice. Under the War Powers Resolution the only option to include them was to enact an encompassing authorization of the use of military force. The court is currently considering the government's motion to dismiss this case. David Addington — at that time legal counsel to former Vice President Dick Cheney — was reported to be the author of the controlling legal and technical documents for the program. Archived from the original on February 9, We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than words. Under an entirely separate law, the FISA Amendments Act, the government still has the authority to access the communications of users of popular Internet sites such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

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It cannot be used to intentionally target any U. On June 7, U. President Barack Obama , referring to the PRISM program [ citation needed ] and the NSA's telephone calls logging program, said, "What you've got is two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress.

Bipartisan majorities have approved them. Congress is continually briefed on how these are conducted. There are a whole range of safeguards involved. And federal judges are overseeing the entire program throughout. You know, we're going to have to make some choices as a society. On June 8, , Director of National Intelligence Clapper made an additional public statement about PRISM and released a fact sheet providing further information about the program, which he described as "an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government's statutorily authorized collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision, as authorized by Section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act FISA 50 U.

All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence , subsequently criticized the fact sheet as being inaccurate. The fact sheet was withdrawn from the NSA's website around June On June 18, NSA Director Alexander said in an open hearing before the House Intelligence Committee of Congress that communications surveillance had helped prevent more than 50 potential terrorist attacks worldwide at least 10 of them involving terrorism suspects or targets in the United States between and , and that the PRISM web traffic surveillance program contributed in over 90 percent of those cases.

In contrast to their swift and forceful reactions the previous day to allegations that the government had been conducting surveillance of United States citizens' telephone records, Congressional leaders initially had little to say about the PRISM program the day after leaked information about the program was published.

Several lawmakers declined to discuss PRISM, citing its top-secret classification, [65] and others said that they had not been aware of the program. Following these statements some lawmakers from both parties warned national security officials during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee that they must change their use of sweeping National Security Agency surveillance programs or face losing the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that have allowed for the agency's mass collection of telephone metadata.

Otherwise, in two and a half years, you're not going to have it anymore. Leaks of classified documents pointed to the role of a special court in enabling the government's secret surveillance programs, but members of the court maintained they were not collaborating with the executive branch. Congress pressed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to release declassified versions of its secret ruling, the court dismissed those requests arguing that the decisions can't be declassified because they contain classified information.

There is a rigorous review process of applications submitted by the executive branch, spearheaded initially by five judicial branch lawyers who are national security experts, and then by the judges, to ensure that the court's authorizations comport with what the applicable statutes authorize. These statistics do not reflect the fact that many applications are altered to prior or final submission or even withheld from final submission entirely, often after an indication that a judge would not approve them.

Polli had publicly stated in that he had received requests from US intelligence agencies to do things that would be in violation of Austrian law, which Polli refused to allow. The Australian government has said it will investigate the impact of the PRISM program and the use of the Pine Gap surveillance facility on the privacy of Australian citizens.

Brazil 's president at the time, Dilma Rousseff , responded to Snowden's reports that the NSA spied on her phone calls and emails by cancelling a planned October state visit to the United States, demanding an official apology, which by October 20, , hadn't come. On 20 October a committee at the European Parliament backed a measure that, if it is enacted, would require American companies to seek clearance from European officials before complying with United States warrants seeking private data.

The legislation has been under consideration for two years. The vote is part of efforts in Europe to shield citizens from online surveillance in the wake of revelations about a far-reaching spying program by the U. Paris prosecutors had opened preliminary inquiries into the NSA program in July, but Fabius said, "… obviously we need to go further" and "we must quickly assure that these practices aren't repeated.

After finding out about the PRISM program, the Mexican Government has started constructing its own spying program to spy on its own citizens. But they have all the partners doing it for them and then they share all the information.

At a meeting of European Union leaders held the week of 21 October , Mariano Rajoy , Spain's prime minister, said that "spying activities aren't proper among partner countries and allies". On 28 October the Spanish government summoned the American ambassador, James Costos , to address allegations that the U.

They found in each case a warrant for interception was in place in accordance with the legal safeguards contained in UK law. In August , The Guardian newspaper's offices were visited by agents from GCHQ, who ordered and supervised the destruction of the hard drives containing information acquired from Snowden.

Corporate executives of several companies identified in the leaked documents told The Guardian that they had no knowledge of the PRISM program in particular and also denied making information available to the government on the scale alleged by news reports. In response to the technology companies' denials of the NSA being able to directly access the companies' servers, The New York Times reported that sources had stated the NSA was gathering the surveillance data from the companies using other technical means in response to court orders for specific sets of data.

In another classified report obtained by The Post, the arrangement is described as allowing 'collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,' rather than directly to company servers. I wouldn't be surprised if they were subject to a gag order. The New York Times reported on June 7, , that "Twitter declined to make it easier for the government.

But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations. While providing data in response to a legitimate FISA request approved by the FISA Court is a legal requirement, modifying systems to make it easier for the government to collect the data is not. This is why Twitter could legally decline to provide an enhanced mechanism for data transmission. In response to the publicity surrounding media reports of data-sharing, several companies requested permission to reveal more public information about the nature and scope of information provided in response to National Security requests.

On June 14, , Facebook reported that the U. That same day, Microsoft reported that for the same period, it received "between 6, and 7, criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31, and 32, consumer accounts from U.

Google issued a statement criticizing the requirement that data be reported in aggregated form, stating that lumping national security requests with criminal request data would be "a step backwards" from its previous, more detailed practices on its website's transparency report. The company said that it would continue to seek government permission to publish the number and extent of FISA requests.

Cisco Systems saw a huge drop in export sales because of fears that the National Security Agency could be using backdoors in its products. On September 12, , Yahoo! The New York Times editorial board charged that the Obama administration "has now lost all credibility on this issue," [] and lamented that "for years, members of Congress ignored evidence that domestic intelligence-gathering had grown beyond their control, and, even now, few seem disturbed to learn that every detail about the public's calling and texting habits now reside in a N.

James Robertson , a former federal district judge based in Washington who served on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court for three years between and and who ruled against the Bush administration in the landmark Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case, said FISA court is independent but flawed because only the government's side is represented effectively in its deliberations. He suggested creating an advocate with security clearance who would argue against government filings.

I don't think that is a judicial function. Daly observed that, "The problem is not just what the National Security Agency is gathering at the risk of our privacy but what it is apparently unable to monitor at the risk of our safety. Ron Paul , a former Republican member of Congress and prominent libertarian , thanked Snowden and Greenwald and denounced the mass surveillance as unhelpful and damaging, urging instead more transparency in U. New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman defended limited government surveillance programs intended to protect the American people from terrorist acts:.

That is why I'll reluctantly, very reluctantly, trade off the government using data mining to look for suspicious patterns in phone numbers called and e-mail addresses—and then have to go to a judge to get a warrant to actually look at the content under guidelines set by Congress—to prevent a day where, out of fear, we give government a license to look at anyone, any e-mail, any phone call, anywhere, anytime.

Political commentator David Brooks similarly cautioned that government data surveillance programs are a necessary evil: Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer worried less about the legality of PRISM and other NSA surveillance tools than about the potential for their abuse without more stringent oversight.

We need a toughening of both congressional oversight and judicial review, perhaps even some independent outside scrutiny. Plus periodic legislative revision—say, reauthorization every couple of years—in light of the efficacy of the safeguards and the nature of the external threat. The object is not to abolish these vital programs. It's to fix them.

In a blog post, David Simon , the creator of The Wire , compared the NSA's programs, including PRISM, to a s effort by the City of Baltimore to add dialed number recorders to all pay phones to know which individuals were being called by the callers; [] the city believed that drug traffickers were using pay phones and pagers, and a municipal judge allowed the city to place the recorders.

The placement of the dialers formed the basis of the show's first season. Simon argued that the media attention regarding the NSA programs is a "faux scandal. Political theorist , and frequent critic of U. But governments will use whatever technology is available to them to combat their primary enemy — which is their own population.

Sentiment around the world was that of general displeasure upon learning the extent of world communication data mining. Some national leaders spoke against the NSA and some spoke against their own national surveillance.

One national minister had scathing comments on the National Security Agency's data-mining program, citing Benjamin Franklin: After Carr replied that there was a legal framework to protect Australians but that the government would not comment on intelligence matters, Xenophon argued that this was not a specific answer to his question. Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said, "We knew about their past efforts to trace our system. We have used our technical resources to foil their efforts and have been able to stop them from succeeding so far.

Reactions of internet users in China were mixed between viewing a loss of freedom worldwide and seeing state surveillance coming out of secrecy. The story broke just before U. To me, it's abusively using government powers to interfere in individuals' privacy.

This is an important moment for international society to reconsider and protect individual rights. This is the nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect the people's privacy is not to allow the government to collect their information in the first place. Matthew Schofield of the McClatchy Washington Bureau said, "Germans are dismayed at Obama's role in allowing the collection of so much information. The Italian president of the Guarantor for the protection of personal data, Antonello Soro, said that the surveillance dragnet "would not be legal in Italy" and would be "contrary to the principles of our legislation and would represent a very serious violation.

CNIL French data protection watchdog intimates Google to change its privacy policies within three months or it'll risk fines up to , euros. Spanish Agency of data protection AEPD is planning to fine Google between 40k and k euros, if it fails to clear about the past usage of the massive data of the Spanish users. William Hague , the foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, dismissed accusations that British security agencies had been circumventing British law by using information gathered on British citizens by PRISM [] saying, "Any data obtained by us from the United States involving UK nationals is subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards.

The ICO has raised this with its European counterparts, and the issue is being considered by the European Commission , who are in discussions with the U. Tim Berners-Lee , the inventor of the World Wide Web , accused western governments of practicing hypocrisy, [] as they conducted spying on the internet while they criticized other countries for spying on the internet.

It is only computer analysis of patterns of calls and emails that are being sent. It is not actually snooping specifically on content of anybody's message or conversation.

This allows for the collection of communications — content and metadata alike — without individual warrants, so long as there is a reasonable belief the communications are both foreign and overseas. The communications of Americans in direct contact with foreign targets can also be collected without a warrant, and the intelligence agencies acknowledge that purely domestic communications can also be inadvertently swept into its databases.

That process is known as "incidental collection". Initially, NSA rules on such data prevented the databases being searched for any details relating to "US persons" — that is, citizens or residents of the US. However, in October the Fisa court approved new procedures which allowed the agency to search for US person data, a revelation contained in documents revealed by Snowden.

The ruling appears to give the agency free access to search for information relating to US people within its vast databases, though not to specifically collect information against US citizens in the first place. It raises serious constitutional questions, and poses a real threat to the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans.

If a government agency thinks that a particular American is engaged in terrorism or espionage, the fourth amendment requires that the government secure a warrant or emergency authorisation before monitoring his or her communications. On July 27, 9: On July 8, 2: On July 7, 8: On June 24, 5: On June 23, 7: On June 5, 6: On June 2, 5: On June 2, On June 1, 5: On May 30, 1: On May 29, 5: Inside his past, what's next?

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Point #3: The Bush-NSA spying was not authorized by any of these lawsTitle III and ECPA govern domestic criminal wiretaps and are not relevant to the NSA's spying. FISA is the law under which the NSA should have operated. US World Politics NSA surveillance exposed. The president urged the Senate to pass the USA Freedom Act to reform NSA spying program before it . In the United States, a secret federal surveillance court approves some of the government’s most enormous, opaque spying programs. It is near-impossible for the public to learn details about these programs, but, as it .