Former National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency director Michael Hayden said in a podcast on Monday that the “golden age of electronic surveillance” is coming to an end, despite reports that indicate the opposite is true.
“Now we might be actually seeing another shift,” Hayden said on the podcast “Recode Decode,” citing the Christopher Steele dossier, adding that the new era will include “all human-sourced” information.
The NSA tripled its collection of American phone calls in 2017, going from 383 million records in 2016 to 534 million records in 2017, according to a U.S. intelligence agency report published on May 4. (RELATED: NSA Tripled The Amount Of Surveillance It Conducted In 2017)
Hayden, who was appointed Director of the NSA by both former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, made clear he was talking about “legitimate targets, and legitimate targeting,” implicitly trying to distant himself from the NSA’s collection of U.S. citizens’ data. “But it was the golden age of that,” he added.
But U.S. agencies also spied on more non-U.S. citizens living abroad in 2017 than in 2016, according to the same report. U.S. authorities spied on more than 129,000 non-U.S. citizens living abroad in 2017, which was 22,000 more than the previous year. The surveillance of foreigners increased about 45 percent in the past five years.
The U.S. government is not the only entity that conducts electronic surveillance — tech giants have come under fire recently for their role in collecting users’ data. Companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon have all been scrutinized for either collecting phone calls, messages or even listening to conversations.
A Portland, Ore., family discovered their Amazon Echo listened, recorded and sent a private conversation to a person on their contacts list. Amazon said in a statement to The Daily Caller News Foundation on May 25 that the device allegedly “woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like (the wake-up word) ‘Alexa.’ Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a ‘send message’ request. At which point, Alexa said out loud ‘To whom?’ At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customer’s contact list.”
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