privacy board says NSA Internet spying program is
effective but worrying
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[July 02, 2014]
(Reuters) - The U.S.
National Security Agency (NSA)'s data collection program
has been an effective tool to enhance the country's
security but some elements of the cyber-spying raises
privacy concerns, a U.S. federal privacy watchdog said
in a report.
Privacy issues have become a hot topic since former NSA contractor
Edward Snowden exposed the spy agency's phone and Internet spying
But the program has allowed the government to collect a greater
range of foreign intelligence "quickly and effectively," the Privacy
and Civil Liberties Oversight Board said in a report released on
It added, however, that certain aspects of the program raise
questions about whether its impact on U.S. persons pushes it over
the edge into "constitutional unreasonableness".
The watchdog said it was concerned about the incidental collection
of U.S. persons' communications and the use of queries to search the
information collected under the program for the communications of
specific U.S. persons.
The program, part of the United States' Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Act (FISA), collects electronic communications,
including telephone calls and emails, where the target is a non-U.S.
citizen located outside the United States.
The board, set up in 2004, is an independent government agency
within the executive branch that advises the U.S. president and
Congress on how to ensure that counter-terrorism operations also
protect Americans' privacy.
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The report was the oversight board's second involving NSA programs.
In January the watchdog said that NSA's bulk collection of phone
records provides only minimal benefits to countering terrorism, is
illegal and should end.
The five-member board also offered several recommendations so that
the program could strike a better balance between privacy, civil
rights, and national security.
(Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore, editing by Foo Yun Chee/Jeremy
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