In a draft report Tuesday, the U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board approved the NSA’s practice of spying on non-U.S. citizens on foreign soil.
“As a matter of international law, privacy is a human right that has been recognized most prominently by the ICCPR, an international treaty ratified by the U.S. Senate,” the board said. “The Board recognizes the considerable value that the Section 702 program provides in the government’s efforts to combat terrorism and gather foreign intelligence, and finds that at its core, the program is sound.”
According to CNet, “The Section 702 provision was approved by Congress in 2008, and was connected to a broader effort to bolster intelligence gathering following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”
Basically, the board is endorsing the NSA’s job, which is to protect the U.S. from foreign attacks. Spying on non-U.S. citizens is ok. Spying on U.S. citizens is not, and the board made that very clear in their January report, which condemned the NSA’s practice of recording private phone calls as illegal.
“In its report, the board lays out what may be the most detailed critique of the government’s once-secret legal theory behind the program,” the New York Times reported. “[The board] was unanimous in recommending a series of immediate changes to the program.”
The January report by the board reads, “The government cannot…collect records concerning numbers that it has no reason to believe are connected to such an investigation, with the intent of looking at them later when it develops some particularized suspicion. In the Board’s view, an intelligence-gathering tool with significant ramifications to privacy for civil liberties cannot be regarded as justified merely because it provides some value in protecting the nation from terrorism.”
The board hasn’t changed its position on what the NSA can and can’t do, it just wants the NSA to collect intelligence to combat terrorism without illegally snooping on its own nation.