A group of lawmakers from both parties are unhappy that they are being asked to reauthorize two key Surveillance programs without the Obama executive branch answering how much data is being gathered on innocent Americans.
|The two programs authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, are PRISM and Upstream. Prism is described by Wikipedia as follows:|
PRISM is a clandestine surveillance program under which the United States National Security Agency (NSA) collects internet communications from at least nine major US internet companies. Since 2001 the United States government has increased its scope for such surveillance, and so this program was launched in 2007.The major companies include Facebook, Yahoo, and Skype. Upstream collection involves four different surveillance programs:
In a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) order from October 3, 2011, it's said that the Upstream collection accounts for approximately 9% of the total number of 250 million internet communications which NSA collects under the authority of section 702 FAA every year. During the first half of 2011, NSA acquired some 13.25 million internet communications through Upstream collection. "The program is unable to exclude domestic communications due to technical difficulties. The government refuses to tell politicians how much data is collected from Americans.Fourteen members of the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, asking for at least a rough estimate of the number. The letter said: “In order that we may properly evaluate these programs, we write to ask that you provide us with a public estimate of the number of communications or transactions involving United States persons subject to Section 702 surveillance on an annual basis.” Senator Rony Wyden has been aksing for the number since 2011. The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board also asked in 2014. More than 30 privacy groups have also asked for the number.Elizabeth Goiten, co-director of the Brennan Center's Liberty and National Security Program said:
“House Judiciary Committee members have lent their voices to the growing chorus demanding hard facts about how foreign intelligence surveillance affects Americans,The NSA will soon be asking Congress to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and it will repeat its past claims that any collection of Americans’ communications is merely ‘incidental. We still don’t have this basic information.”The United States is a member of the so-called Five Eyes. agreement. The agreement includes Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The five agree to co-operate in signals intelligence. During the 2013 NSA leaks on internet spying "the surveillance agencies of the "Five Eyes" have been accused of intentionally spying on one another's citizens and willingly sharing the collected information with each other, allegedly circumventing laws preventing each agency from spying on its own citizens."