Independent government watchdog group says NSA phone data collection is illegal and ineffective


The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board have released a report in which they call the NSA phone data collection illegal and also ineffectual .

The report, which is 238-pages, says that there have been “minimal” gains from the NSA’s phone data collection program, which goes against what President Obama has recently said.

“We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counterterrorism investigation,” the report said, according to The Washington Post, who have received a copy. “Moreover, we are aware of no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack.”

“At its core, the approach boils down to the proposition that essentially all telephone records are relevant to essentially all international terrorism investigations,” the report continues. “At minimum, (it) is in deep tension with the statutory requirement that items obtained through a Section 215 order be sought for ‘an investigation,’ not for the purpose of enhancing the government’s counterterrorism capabilities generally.”

To be fair, two out of the five members on Oversight Board do not think that collection program is illegal, but they all agree on a series of recommendations in the report, which closely mirror the ones that President Obama outlined in his speech last week.

[via The Verge, The New York Times, The Washington Post, image via frederic.jacobs’ flickr]

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