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Posts Tagged privacy rights

NSA violated privacy rules thousands of times, audit finds

NSA Violated Privacy Rules…

Transgressions ranged from serious legal violations to typos that led to unintended data collection, according to documents supplied to The Washington Post.



The National Security Agency exceeded its legal authority and broke agency rules thousands of times since it was granted broader powers in 2008, according to an internal agency audit obtained by The Washington Post.

Most violations involved unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the U.S., according to the documents, which were supplied to the newspaper by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The documents show infractions ranging from serious legal violations to typographical errors that resulted in unintended data collection, The Post reported.

The agency was not always forthcoming with the details of its transgressions, the Post found. A quality assurance report not shared with an oversight committee found that a “large number” of calls were placed to Egypt 2008 when the U.S. area code 202 was mistakenly entered as 20. In another case, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which reviews NSA warrant requests, was not made aware of a new collection method until it had been in place for several months. The court ultimately ruled it unconstitutional, the Post reported.

The audit, dated May 2012, uncovered 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications, the Post reported. One of those cases involved the unauthorized use of data on 3,000 Americans and green-card holders.

An anonymous representative defended the agency’s record in an interview with the Post.

“We’re a human-run agency operating in a complex environment with a number of different regulatory regimes, so at times we find ourselves on the wrong side of the line,” the senior NSA official said, speaking with White House permission. “You can look at it as a percentage of our total activity that occurs each day. You look at a number in absolute terms that looks big, and when you look at it in relative terms, it looks a little different.”

The Obama administration, which has defended the NSA activities, has never publicly addressed the agency’s compliance record, the Post noted. However, the NSA Director of Compliance John DeLong defended the agency’s procedures, saying it had in recent years quadrupled the number of personnel working in its privacy compliance program:


We want people to report if they have made a mistake or even if they believe that an NSA activity is not consistent with the rules. NSA, like other regulated organizations, also has a “hotline” for people to report — and no adverse action or reprisal can be taken for the simple act of reporting. We take each report seriously, investigate the matter, address the issue, constantly look for trends, and address them as well — all as a part of NSA’s internal oversight and compliance efforts. What’s more, we keep our overseers informed through both immediate reporting and periodic reporting. Our internal privacy compliance program has more than 300 personnel assigned to it: a fourfold increase since 2009. They manage NSA’s rules, train personnel, develop and implement technical safeguards, and set up systems to continually monitor and guide NSA’s activities. We take this work very seriously.

The NSA later offered this as a substitute statement:

“NSA’s foreign intelligence collection activities are continually audited and overseen internally and externally,” the NSA said. “When NSA makes a mistake in carrying out its foreign intelligence mission, the agency reports the issue internally and to federal overseers — and aggressively gets to the bottom of it.”

Source: Steven Musil

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(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (to Privacy!)

Fight For Your Right to Privacy

Who should care about privacy? Only people that have something to hide, right? Wrong.  That thought is a common misconception about privacy but privacy is for everyone, even you and it’s not only necessary and important it’s also a privilege.

This is demonstrated when we look at the definition of privacy from Merriam-Webster Dictionary: privacy is the quality or state of being apart from company or observation and freedom from unauthorized intrusion.  So, everyone has a right to be free from observation and intrusion; don’t you want to protect that?  That’s where Internet Privacy Laws come in.  Specifically the Electronic Communication Privacy Act (ECPA), this law plays a huge part regarding privacy as a right in a free society and it also affects the economy.

Today all of your personal and confidential information has been made electronic. Businesses have moved their sensitive data from outdated paper files to cloud storage.  Gone are the days when files upon paper files are kept in doctor’s offices, therapist’s offices, accounting offices, etc. Industry is keeping up with the times so why isn’t the law?

The ECPA hasn’t been updated since 1986! In 1986 the Beastie Boys song “(You Gotta)Fight for your Right (To Party!)” was released and I wasn’t even old enough to listen to it. There’s also an entire generation currently working in the IT field that wasn’t even born when the ECPA was created.

Outdated privacy laws harm small businesses because it makes consumers insecure about the safety of their private details. The ECPA needs to be updated to provide online customers the same legal protection they receive offline. Watch the video below from to see how much has changed from 1986 when the ECPA was created, then visit the website to see what you can do to fight for your right to privacy.

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