The National Security Agency’s phone metadata collection is illegal and must come to an end, a government watchdog agency declared on Thursday.
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board has already given its assessments to President Barack Obama, assessments which go much further than the president’s recommendation last Friday that the data be entrusted to a third-party with stricter access standards. (RELATED: OBama praises NSA’s mission and people as he sets new curbs)
“We have not identified a single instance involving a threat to the United States in which the telephone records program made a concrete difference in the outcome of a counter terrorism investigation,” the board said according to a Reuters report.
“The connections revealed by the extensive database of telephone records gathered under the program will necessarily include relationships established among individuals and groups for political, religious, and other expressive purposes,” the board said.
The watchdog group said metadata programs leaked by former agency contractor Edward Snowden threaten to impose a chilling effect on the public’s sense of security in constitutional rights like the First Amendment.
Two of the five board members were open to the possibility of continuing the programs if they were modified in a way that satisfied their privacy concerns, while the rest of the board announced the current programs should be stopped altogether.