Contrary to what Internet activists have been demanding for long, the outgoing US government led by President Obama has increased the scope for US government’s Internet surveillance. Now the various US government agencies will be able to share intelligence gathered by the NSA (National Security Agency). The personal data globally intercepted by the NSA will be made available to other US intelligence agencies. In this way the US government has increased the level of Internet surveillance to a great extent within the country.
A dozen US intelligence agencies including the CIA and the Drug Enforcement Administration will be able to go through the data intercepted and collected from foreign networks and satellite transmission including phone calls, emails and other personal data, according to a report that has appeared in the New York Times.
According to the report:
The change means that far more officials will be searching through raw data. Essentially, the government is reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people.
The Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch has signed the required document that will allow the NSA to share “raw signals intelligence information” with other US intelligence agencies.
What’s the difference? How has the US government increased Internet surveillance compared to before?
Previously, the National Security Agency would filter the information before sharing it with other intelligence agencies like the CIA or the FBI. After the new law has become effective, the NSA will not be filtering the information, it will be sharing raw data that it collects from different sources. Previously, only that information was shared that the NSA felt should be passed on to other agencies. Not every bit of information will be shared. Now the information will be directly available as raw repositories to other agencies. The New York Times report further quotes:
“This is not expanding the substantive ability of law enforcement to get access to signals intelligence,” said Robert S. Litt, the general counsel to Mr. Clapper. “It is simply widening the aperture for a larger number of analysts, who will be bound by the existing rules.”
Internet advocacy groups and Trump-phobes were hoping that before Obama leaves he would put some limit to the government’s surveillance program but he has done totally the opposite.