US asked that 1934 Americans' names be 'unmasked' in intel

Miranda GreerMay 04, 2017

NSA said it will no longer collect "upstream internet communications" between USA individuals who talked about a foreign intelligence target and will delete previously acquired upstream digital records "as soon as practicable".

According to a report released Tuesday by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency (NSA) collected millions of phone records in 2016, despite a 2015 legislation designed by the Congress to limit the agency's ability to get bulk records of telephone calls. Rather, the report is formulated on the use of specific identifiers for Americans, such as e-mail addresses, social media profiles and so on.

It's got to do with the "hops": for example, if a target phone number calls another phone number, that's one hop. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is the subject of significant debate in Congress, with a newfound push to reform the rule that permits the NSA to collect foreign intelligence information on non-U.S. citizens living or traveling outside the U.S.

"It might be that you had to add thousands of Russian hackers that you might otherwise have thought didn't have intelligence value, but now they do", said Mieke Eoyang, vice president for the national security program at Third Way, which describes itself as a centrist think tank in Washington.

ODNI issued the report as Congress considers whether to renew NSA's application for the reauthorization of section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

That's the act that was supposed to clip the NSA's surveillance powers.

The data comes from an annual transparency report that, for some reason, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence hosts on Tumblr.

On April 28, the NSA announced that it was slightly curtailing the scope of its Section 702 collection, which depends largely on direct taps into the Internet backbone at major telecommunications nexus points (such as cable landing points and other major Internet peering locations).

Tuesday's report offered only sketchy information about how US citizens or permanent residents can fall into the surveillance net.

Lawmakers have repeatedly asked USA intelligence agencies to tell them how many Americans' emails and calls are vacuumed up by warrantless government surveillance programs created to collect information on foreign intelligence targets. If Americans or permanent residents are swept up in the search, they are considered "incidental" and their identities are "minimized" under what the report called "robust internal agency oversight". The law, set to expire at the end of the year, allows federal agencies to collect information on Americans as long as the target of the collection is a foreigner who happens to be communicating with someone in the US. They also claimed that numerous records collected would have been from the same individuals, further reducing the total number of people surveilled. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a statement.

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