Government privacy watchdog endorses NSA surveillance of foreign nationals

[JURIST] The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) [official website] issued a report [report, PDF] Wednesday endorsing the National Security Agency's (NSA) [official website] surveillance program [JURIST backgrounder] before a final meeting [press release] to discuss and vote on the release of the report. The report contained the results of a study the board conducted on how the NSA uses section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act of 2008 [text] and if it complies with FISA and constitutional requirements. The report also included recommendations which were intended to "strike a better balance between privacy, civil rights, and national security." The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] released a press release [press release] concerning the report and its contents. ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer noted that the report "fails to fully grasp the civil liberties and human rights implications of permitting the government sweeping access to the communications of innocent people."

The NSA has come under intense scrutiny ever since Edward Snowden [JURIST news archive] leaked [JURIST report] top-secret NSA documents last year. In May, the US approved a bill [JURIST report] that would curb the power of the NSA to collect phone records. In January, the PCLOB found [JURIST report] that the NSA's phone surveillance program was illegal. Last year the ACLU in conjunction with the New York Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] filed suit [JURIST report] against the NSA challenging its phone data collection. Countries such as Brazil and Germany have passed legislation [JURIST report] aimed at eliminating privacy invasions due to excessive surveillance programs and data collection.

 

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