The House passed legislation Thursday to end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of American phone records. The compromise measure (called “watered down” by Democrat Jan Schakowsky of Illinois) passed by a vote of 303 to 120, with nine members not voting.
American telephone metadata was only found to have played a role in initiating 1.8 percent of investigations, with a total contribution from NSA surveillance to investigations coming to 7.5 percent of cases. Traditional investigative methods (informants, community tips, targeted intelligence) provided 59.6 percent of impetus for those investigations, the report states.
Within days of reports about the National Security Agency’s electronic surveillance efforts, it was revealed that French intelligence services operated a similar system with minimal oversight, The New York Times reports. Last week, with little public debate, the French legislature approved a law that critics fear would expand electronic surveillance of French residents and businesses. The provision was quietly passed as part of a routine military spending bill, and it defines the conditions under which intelligence agencies may gain access to or record telephone conversations, emails, Internet activity, personal location data and additional electronic communications, the article reports.
Following the controversial disclosures of National Security Agency surveillance practices, a presidential task force is on the verge of proposing a dramatic overhaul of the agency, CBS News reports. The task force’s draft report is due Sunday, and will be released for public review before the end of the year. The goal, the article says, is to roll out the new NSA procedures in January, most of which will be enacted through internal administration procedural changes.
Eight major technology companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, are joining forces to call for tighter controls on government surveillance, according to The Associated Press. The companies say in an open letter to President Barack Obama that while they sympathize with national security concerns, recent revelations make it clear that laws should be carefully tailored to balance them against individual rights.
Close to 1.5 percent of the Internet’s top websites track users without their knowledge or consent, even when visitors enable their browser’s Do Not Track options, according to a research team in Europe.
The NSA has been using its collections of data since November 2010 to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, a New York Times article reports.
Close to 60 percent of Americans polled oppose the NSA’s collection of data on telephone and Internet usage, and a similar majority opposes the legal process supervised by a secret federal court that oversees the government’s classified surveillance, the AP report says.