A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Declassified materials show NSA surveilence restrictions reversed in 2011

According to a report [WP report] released by the Washington Post Saturday, the Obama administration won permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) [official websites] court in 2011 to reverse restrictions on the National Security Agency (NSA) [official website] use of intercepted phone calls and e-mails. The revelations come from materials [text, PDF] recently declassified by the Obama administration, including a 2011 opinion by the chief judge of the FISC regarding section 702 [text, PDF] of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The decision allowed for the NSA to retain US communications the agency intercepted for an additional year and perform searches of e-mail and phone call databases using e-mail addresses and phone numbers of US citizens. According to the report, the 2011 decision overturned a 2008 ban on government requests for searches of such databases.

The revelations surrounding the NSA surveillance programs [JURIST backgrounder] have sparked worldwide debate and controversy. Last week The Guardian [official website] obtained files showing [JURIST report] that the NSA and its UK counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) [official website], compromised the guarantees that Internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications are encrypted. The files, published [NYT report] in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica [official websites], reveal a 10-year NSA decryption program, making data through Internet cable taps exploitable. In June the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in conjunction with the New York Civil Liberties Union [advocacy websites] filed suit [JURIST report] against the NSA challenging its recently revealed phone data collection. Although the president and top officials have defended the surveillance as a lawful counterterrorism measure, several US lawmakers have called for a review [JURIST report] of the government's surveillance activity in light of recent reports revealing phone and Internet monitoring.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.