National Security Agency has announced in this Friday that it would end their controversial practice of sweeping up any of the email or text message an American exchanges with anyone overseas which makes reference to a real target of the NSA surveillance.
This powerful US spy agency said that although they have the legal power to continue up scooping up the communications, it would stop this practice to protect the privacy of the US citizens.
“The NSA will no longer collect any certain internet communications which merely mention a foreign intelligence target,” they said in a statement.
NSA is the country’s premier signals intelligence body and it is permitted to collect any communications of any foreign target, but not of the Americans except in some special situations, or if they gains a warrant to do so.
Under the Section 702 of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, they are allowed to scoop up a US citizen emails and texts with someone outside country if those have merely mentioned a specific NSA surveillance target — so called “about” collection.
This practice has started a heavy criticism from the civil liberties advocates who say that it violates the constitutional protections. Many of them have threatened to try to block the renewal of the Section 702 at the end of this year if the law is not changed. But the country’s intelligence community wants this law to be renewed unchanged.
NSA said it would voluntarily end this so “about” collection even if it means that they might lose access to some important information in the fight against the cyberthreats and also terrorism.
Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, praised this move but said that the Section 702 still needs multiple changes.
“To permanently protect Americans’ rights, I intend to introduce legislation banning this kind of collection in the future,” he said.
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