According to an NBC News report, there are documents from 2009 and 2011 that allege that the NSA had "compliance problems" with their digital databases. This information was declassified today due to the growing calls for transparency about the type of information that the U.S. government is collecting about users of electronic devices.
When I first wrote about the NSA's collection of electronic information in early June, I didn't want to speculate on where these allegations would lead. I have long suspected that the United States and other countries were collecting and analyzing vast amounts of digital information; however, until this information became public knowledge it sounded as though this was something that came out of George Orwell's book Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Should the U.S. be collecting and analyzing electronic data? Of course. However, are the government programs involved adhering to the law? The declassification of documents related to these matters may help shed some light on these issues.
I am concerned by the internal government documents that allege there are "compliance problems" with these programs. "Compliance problems" may indicate that there are some legal issues regarding how the program is administered. If there are "compliance problems", an investigation may be needed to determine if any laws were/are being broken.
According to The Guardian, an NSA tool called XKeyscore "allows analysts to search with no prior authorization through
vast databases containing emails, online chats and the browsing
histories of millions of individuals". According to former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden, he "could "wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the president, if I had a personal email". If these allegations are true, they are very troubling and may demonstrate the need for an independent commission to review the NSA's digital data collection programs.
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