Monday, July 07, 2014

Targeted and proportionate?

Last week, the US Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board - a body appointed by the President to "investigate" the NSA - endorsed the NSA's s702 international wiretapping programme, finding it to be legal, valuable, targeted, and proportionate.

I guess they'd never seen the actual intercepts then:

Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.

Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.

This isn't targeted interception - its a dragnet that captures people indiscriminately and grossly violates their privacy in a continuing manner. They're collecting people's CVs, academic transcripts, medical records, and personal photos - not to mention all the accompanying conversations - regardless of whether or not they're of actual interest. And naturally, they're keeping it all, just in case it turns out to be useful later.

Though its membership in the Five Eyes, our government is an active participant in this global conspiracy to invade people's privacy. Its time we ended that.