NSA can access data without court approval, leaker says
Snowden repeats his accusations after U.S. agencies deny they listen to phone calls or read emails without warrants
IDG News Service - Analysts at the U.S. National Security Agency can gain access to the content of U.S. targets' phone calls and email messages without court orders, NSA leaker Edward Snowden said, contradicting denials from U.S. government sources.
U.S. surveillance agencies have weak policy protections in place to protect U.S. residents, but "policy is a one-way ratchet that only loosens," Snowden, the former NSA contractor, said in a chat on The Guardian's website Monday.
The technology filter designed to protect U.S. communications is "constantly out of date, is set at what is euphemistically referred to as the 'widest allowable aperture,' and can be stripped out at any time," Snowden wrote in the chat. "Even with the filter, US comms get ingested, and even more so as soon as they leave the border."
If an analyst at the NSA, CIA or other U.S. intelligence agency has access to the databases of collected communications records, "they can enter and get results for anything they want," Snowden added. "Phone number, email, user id, cell phone handset id, and so on - it's all the same. The restrictions against this are policy based, not technically based, and can change at any time."
Earlier this month, The Guardian and The Washington Post published information leaked from Snowden about the NSA and other U.S. surveillance. Snowden leaked a document showing a court order allowing the NSA and Federal Bureau of Investigation to collect phone records from Verizon customers, and he alleged that NSA analysts can gain access to phone calls and email messages without court approval.
Snowden's comments came after U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat, suggested that lawmakers were told in a classified briefing last week that officials with the NSA and FBI believe they don't need court-ordered warrants to listen to phone calls and read emails.
Nadler, in a hearing last Thursday, asked FBI director Robert Mueller if the agencies need a warrant to listen to phone calls.
"You have to get a special, particularized order from the FISA court directed at that particular phone and that particular individual," Mueller said.
NSA director Keith Alexander also said the agency needs warrants to access the contents of phone calls and email messages when questioned in another hearing last week.
The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence Public also disputed Snowden's assertions of warrantless wiretapping and Nadler's understanding of the classified briefing to lawmakers.
"The statement that a single analyst can eavesdrop on domestic communications without proper legal authorization is incorrect and was not briefed to Congress," the ODNI said in a statement.
Nadler, in a statement released after the Thursday hearing, said the Obama administration had assured him that the "NSA cannot listen to the content of Americans' phone calls without a specific warrant."
- Combating Identity Theft in a Mobile, Social World Offering identity theft protection and remediation allows businesses to give their workforce the confidence to efficiently engage while bringing financial reward to the...
- After a Breach: Managing Identity Theft Effectively This white paper from LifeLock Business Solutions notes that FIs in addition to managing fraud should strive to turn a negative event for...
- Combating Identity Fraud in a Virtual World This slide presentation reveals findings from the Javelin Strategy & Research 2012 Identity Fraud Report about mobile and social trends, the real risks...
- Deep Security +VMware vSphere with Operations Management Most midsize organizations are highly virtualized on VMware, and while this has produced significant savings, it also has created new challenges when it...
- Data Protection and Disaster Recovery with iSCSI and VMware Get this on demand webcast now
- Business-driven data protection Setting up data protection infrastructures with your organizations' core mission or business in mind is key. In this webinar, the ARCserve team will... All Privacy White Papers | Webcasts
Our new bimonthly Internet of Things newsletter helps you keep pace with the rapidly evolving technologies, trends and developments related to the IoT. Subscribe now and stay up to date!