NSA violated privacy rules thousands of times, leaked audit reveals

By on August 16, 2013, 7:30 AM
nsa, leaked, united states, leak, privacy, national security agency

An audit leaked by The Washington Post has revealed a staggering amount of privacy violations performed by the National Security Agency (NSA), resulting in thousands of cases of unauthorized surveillance on Americans each year.

The documents detail an internal audit conducted by the NSA on its operations from Q2 2011 to Q1 2012, where a whopping 2,776 "incidents" were discovered. These incidents, mostly unintended, concern direct violations of rules and court orders, which resulted in unnecessary surveillance of citizens.

Of 195 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act violations that occurred in Q1 2012, just a fraction of the total amount, 123 incidents were operator errors, while the remaining 72 incidents were computer errors. Operator errors included not following standard operating procedures, insufficient or inaccurate information, and overly broad search terms. The majority of computer errors during this period were from the system not recognizing foreigners who brought their mobile phones into the United States.

One particularly serious incident detailed in the audit involved more than 3,000 US citizens having their phone records retained by the NSA, despite a surveillance court ordering their destruction. Another incident involved a programming error where the US area code 202 and Egyptian international dialing code +20 were confused, resulting in a "large number" of domestic phone call interceptions.

Even more violations would have been detailed in the report if its scope included NSA sites other than their Fort Meade headquarters. An unnamed NSA official was quoted as saying the number of violations was small when taken in context. "You look at a number in absolute terms that looks big, and when you look at it in relative terms, it looks a little different", he said.

The audit documents provided to the Post were obtained by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who earlier this year leaked slides concerning PRISM, a controversial government surveillance program involving major tech companies. United States officials have been forced to defend their intelligence and data-collection practices, stating that its critical to the prevention of terrorist threats. How they'll respond to this recent round of leaks remains to be seen.




User Comments: 12

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2 people like this | tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

NSA (National Security Agency) sounds like they need an agency to regulate (watch) them! WSA Watchdog Security Agency!

1 person liked this | Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Woah no way!? You mean a government agency abused their power and did something illegal and immoral? Who would have thought?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

For everyone that doesn't see the harm in this, I truly hope you were the ones being violated.

For those of you who don't see the harm in this, would you try and seek out restitution for being violated? No need in answering, because I know what you say, would not be what you do.

2 people like this | MilwaukeeMike said:

Another incident involved a programming error where the US area code 202 and Egyptian international dialing code +20 were confused, resulting in a "large number" of domestic phone call interceptions.

If area code 202 were North Dakota I might believe this was an honest error, but 202 is Washington DC. So the NSA 'accidentally' intercepted a whole ton of phone calls in Washington DC in an election year. Last time one side of a presidential election spied on the other it was called Watergate.

For everyone that doesn't see the harm in this, I truly hope you were the ones being violated.

For those of you who don't see the harm in this, would you try and seek out restitution for being violated? No need in answering, because I know what you say, would not be what you do.

I doubt anyone would ever know their privacy was violated. So long as you don't publicly insult our president our violations of our constitutional rights will remain unnoticed.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I doubt anyone would ever know their privacy was violated. So long as you don't publicly insult our president our violations of our constitutional rights will remain unnoticed.
OMG, that link was so funny! LMAO

Cycloid Torus Cycloid Torus said:

Ouch. I was hoping the FISA was a bit better than it seems it is. Mishandling will negatively impact what should be a useful tool. I know it is human nature to 'push the envelope', so I wish the agency would carefully respect the limits and make good use of the tool. Sadly, it appears they have not.

2 people like this |
Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

while the remaining 72 incidents were computer errors.

Geez, blaming the computers seems like a new low, even for the government.

1 person liked this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

"NSA violated privacy rules thousands of times"

I'm surprised. That's not very much by NSA standards.

misor misor said:

Lol, an 'audit' finds the NSA violating privacy rules and still no heads rolled, not even an apology from the government/president?

what's the use of an 'internal audit' if nobody is accountable in the real world?

who will police the police?

I'm lucky that I have not travelled to the u.s.

(I have fear of heights/airplanes ; I have an unkempt appearance therefore 'suspicious-looking'

1 person liked this | spencer spencer said:

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants".-Thomas Jefferson

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants".-Thomas Jefferson
Smart man, wish he was wrong though. :/

Guest said:

Basically, the people in the goverment has to much power and no body watch how they use it.

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