Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
“The secret U.S. court
operating under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance ACT (FISA) has given the
National Security Agency a green light to use data collected 'inadvertently'
from Americans while spying on foreign targets, it was revealed today.
Among the leaked
classified documents published by the UK newspaper The GuardianThursday were two court submissions signed by Attorney General Eric Holder and dated
July 29, 2009, which detail the procedures the NSA must follow to target
submissions also outlined steps the agency is required to follow in an effort
to minimize the data accidentally collected on U.S. citizens.
According to the leaked
reports, data gathered on Americans without a warrant under the foreign
intelligence authority must be destroyed. The documents also outline how
analysts must take 'extensive steps' to try to check targets are outside the
The Fisa court
documents state that U.S. call records can be used to help remove Americans
from data collection.
But despite the steps
that NSA analysts are required to take in order to avoid spying on Americans,
the Fisa court allows the agency to keep potentially domestic data for up to
five years, and use 'inadvertently acquired domestic communications that
contain usable intelligence….’”
can retain data of Americans if the information is ordained “valuable and actionable.”
How does one reckon that the information before the NSA is “valuable
and actionable” and, therefore, worth holding on to and/or further infringement
upon the liberties of the individual being spied on?
Sole discretion is in the hands of the analyst, his or
“We now knowthat every day,
U.S. phone companies quietly send the government a list of who called whom and
when — ‘telephony metadata’ — for every call made on their networks, because of
a secret order by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. It turns out
that this has been going on for seven years (and was even reportedby USA Today then); the difference now is that
the government — uncharacteristically for such a secret intelligence operation
— quickly acknowledged the authenticity of the leaked order and the existence
of the metadata collection program.
Should we be worried?
At least ‘nobody is listening to our telephone calls’ (so the president himselfassuredus). People breathed a sigh of relief
since first learning of the surveillance because surely there’s nothing to
worry about when it comes to such seemingly innocuous information — it’s justmetadata, after all. Phew!
still leaves a lot to be concerned about. There’s more to privacy than just the
sounds of our voices: Content may be what we say, but metadata is about what we