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The NSA Ends One Kind of Warrantless Search

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NSA logoby Kate Tummarello, Electronic Frontier Foundation

The NSA is stopping its use of one controversial surveillance technique that impacts Americans’ privacy.

Make no mistake. This is good news for anyone who wants government surveillance to follow the law. But there’s much more to be done to rein in unconstitutional spying.

Initially reported by The New York Times and confirmed by the agency itself, the NSA will no longer conduct “about” searches of the full content of Internet communications, including to and from innocent Americans, that are “about” — or mention — a foreign intelligence target’s email address or other identifier. The NSA said the changes were a result of “inadvertent compliance incidents,” or violations of court-imposed restrictions.

These searches happen as part of the NSA’s Upstream program, through which the agency taps directly into the Internet backbone to seize and search Internet traffic. The US government has claimed these warrantless searches of Americans’ email are allowed under Section 702, enacted as part of the FISA Amendments Act, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

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© 2017 Electronic Frontier Foundation

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