Court OK’s sweeping NSA phone surveillance practices

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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The U.S. spy court renewed the National Security Agency’s sweeping surveillance powers on Friday.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced on Friday that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) renewed the a formerly top secret court order authorizing the NSA to collect the domestic phone records of millions of Americans.

The ODNI, which is the executive branch agency that oversees the U.S. intelligence community, previously announced the FISC’s renewal of the NSA’s collection powers in July after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper ordered the declassification of various documents pertaining to the program.

Clapper’s order came in response to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures in June about the NSA’s phone and Internet surveillance programs.

“Previously on several occasions, the Director of National Intelligence declassified certain information about this telephony metadata collection program in order to provide the public with a more thorough and balanced understanding of the program,” said ODNI spokesman Shawn Turner in a statement.

“Consistent with his prior declassification decision and in light of the significant and continuing public interest in the telephony metadata collection program, DNI Clapper has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the court renewed that authority,” said Turner.

Snowden’s disclosures of classified documents touched off a domestic and international furor over the West’s global electronic surveillance regime.

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