NSA Deletes Phone Calls it Recorded ‘by Accident’
The National Security Agency (NSA) on Thursday said it would be deleting millions of recorded phone calls and text messages after learning of “technical irregularities” that caused it to collect information it wasn’t authorized to receive.
Analysts in May noticed “technical irregularities in some data received from telecommunications service providers.”
General counsel Glenn Gerstell in an interview confirmed that “one or more” telecom companies had responded to the NSA’s requests for data on certain individuals by sending data logs including far more than the relevant data. As it was “infeasible” to comb through all the calls and texts to find the authorized data, the NSA decided to delete everything. The deletions allegedly began on May 23rd.
The records in question date back to 2015 and were obtained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The NSA confirmed this week it had addressed the “root cause of the problem” to prevent the accident from happening again.
“While the step shows that the NSA is willing to err on the side of caution, it continues a streak of privacy violations at the agency since its bulk phone data collection fell under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2004,” reports EnGadget. “It also illustrates the problem with keeping such large-scale monitoring in check. The system depends on both the NSA and telecoms strictly honoring the law, and all it takes is a mistake to create a serious privacy breach.”
Author’s Note: Let’s remember that recording phone calls “by accident” is still illegal. The NSA, which in 2017 faced legal scrutiny over its Internet surveillance data collection program, is supposed to be banned from spying on US citizens unless it is working with the FBI.
Editor’s Note: This was over 600 million records, how is that and ‘accident’?