Of Course the NSA Can Keep Inadvertently Acquired Data on US Citizens

Illustration for article titled Of Course the NSA Can Keep Inadvertently Acquired Data on US Citizens

The Guardian has obtained a series of documents which reveal that, while the NSA is expected to "minimize" collection of data suspected to belong to US citizens, any "inadvertently acquired" domestic communications can still be kept and used without a warrant.


US officials have been at pains to insist that the NSA is only supposed to target non-domestic communications. But the series of guidelines, approved by the secret FISA court and Attorney General Eric Holder back in 2009, outline how domestic US communications can be retained for five years under the right conditions:

  • If communications are "reasonably believed to contain evidence of a crime that has been, is being, or is about to be committed"
  • If communications are encrypted
  • If communications are "reasonably believed" to be of use in maintaining cybersecurity

The guidelines also explain how "unminimized" communications can be handed straight over to the FBI or the CIA, if those agencies specify their own "minimization" procedures. Coming on the back of Obama happily claiming that data collection policies outlined in Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) "does not apply to any US person", it looks like the government is sending out some mixed messages. [Guardian via Verge]

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