NSA Swept up Phone Data of Millions of Americans, but only used it to Investigate 248

Tuesday, July 01, 2014
(AP Graphic)

Virtually every American last year had some of their phone records collected by the National Security Agency (NSA), but fewer than 250 U.S. citizens were actually investigated by the government.


This disclosure was provided by the NSA in what’s been described as the “first-ever disclosure of statistics about how it uses its broad surveillance authorities,” according to The Guardian.


Hundreds of millions of phone records were vacuumed up by the spy agency in 2013. But out of this enormous volume of personal information, the NSA wound up probing the data belonging to only 248 individuals in the U.S., according to a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.


The report also showed that the agency asked the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court 178 times for phone record data in 2013.


Privacy advocates hailed the release of the previously undisclosed statistics. “This transparency report is significant because it shows for the first time on an annual basis both targets of business-record orders and the number of U.S. persons specifically targeted with these metadata queries,” Alan Butler, a lawyer with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told The Guardian.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

NSA Queried Phone Records of Just 248 People Despite Massive Data Sweep (by Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian)

Statistical Transparency Report Regarding Use of National Security Authorities (Office of the Director of National Intelligence)

Lawmakers Seek to Prevent NSA from Weakening Online Encryption via Reform Bill Amendment (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)

NSA Strives to Restore 100% Coverage of Phone Calls as in the Days of George W. Bush (by Steve Straehley, AllGov)


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