This week, the NSA said that they would end the program that collected bulk data on American citizens communications, but it is unlikely that the agency has shut down their spy operations entirely. The NSA has promised to comply with “the USA Freedom Act,” a piece of legislation that demanded the agency halt its spying operations on innocent people. However, there is still a massive spying apparatus that the NSA and various other US government agencies like the CIA have at their disposal.
According to a recent statement from the Office Of The Director Of National Intelligence:
Beginning Sunday, November 29, the government is prohibited from collecting telephone metadata records in bulk under Section 215, including of both U.S. and non-U.S. persons. And, while under the prior program NSA collected metadata in bulk and sought court approval for individual queries, the USA FREEDOM Act requires that the government must now base any application for telephone metadata records under FISA on a “specific selection term”—a term that specifically identifies a person, account, address, or personal device in a way that limits the scope of information sought to the greatest extent reasonably practicable. This further ensures that collection of information for intelligence purposes is appropriately focused and targeted, and is limited to information that telephone service providers have historically used for their internal billing and operational needs. Moreover, under the Act, the Government will report annually to Congress and to the public, among other things, the total number or orders issued under this authority and the number of targets of such orders.
After the passing of the bill, deputy legal director of the ACLU Jameel Jaffer said that it left some of the agencies most intrusive programs untouched. “The bill leaves many of the government’s most intrusive and overbroad surveillance powers untouched, and it makes only very modest adjustments to disclosure and transparency requirements. The passage of this bill is an indication that comprehensive reform is possible, but it is not comprehensive reform in itself,” he said.
Additionally, documents obtained by the New York Times through the Freedom of Information Act have revealed that other programs will replace the controversial spy operations that were made public by Edward Snowden.
As Derrick Broze of Truth In Media pointed out “If Americans were hopeful that the USA Freedom Act was going to stop the bulk collection of data, they are in for disappointment. As long as the state has the technology and the resources (funded via tax dollars), they will use whatever tools they have at their disposal to monitor innocent individuals as the march towards complete loss of civil liberties continues.”
It is truly insulting to the intelligence of the people of America, and the rest of the world, that a US government agency designed to spy on people would simply stop because a law was passed. If the government was actually concerned about people’s privacy, they would not be constantly demonizing encryption and other means of private communication. Supporters of NSA spying say that it helps the US government catch terrorists, however, this surveillance has not caught any terrorists, and it has failed to prevent terrorist attacks.