11:40 GMT30 May 2020
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    The National Security Agency has been given more freedom to share their collected information with other agencies, thanks to a last-minute executive order by the Obama administration, roughly a week before the President leaves the White House.

    The NSA will now be permitted to share globally-intercepted personal communications with the 16 other agencies within the US intelligence community, without having to filter out the identities of innocent people or personal communications irrelevant to investigations. The filters, the intelligence community argued, could lead to information not being shared due to the NSA not realizing that it was valuable to other agency investigations.

    “Rather than dramatically expanding government access to so much personal data, we need much stronger rules to protect the privacy of Americans,” Patrick Toomey, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told the Seattle Times. “Seventeen different government agencies shouldn’t be rooting through Americans’ emails with family members, friends and colleagues, all without ever obtaining a warrant.”

    According to the new, relaxed rules, set in place just in time for the incoming Trump Administration, agencies can request surveillance feeds they deem useful to their investigations. The NSA will then decide if the requests are reasonable, weighing whether a large amount of Americans’ personal information may be included, and how embarrassing it would be if the information obtained was mishandled, the Times explained.

    “New rules issued by the Obama administration under Executive Order 12333 will let the NSA—which collects information under that authority with little oversight, transparency, or concern for privacy—share the raw streams of communications it intercepts directly with agencies including the FBI, the DEA, and the Department of Homeland Security,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) wrote of the order.

    The raw surveillance data can also only be searched for information on citizens if it is related to foreign intelligence or counterintelligence. The new rules will not apply to domestic criminal cases.

    The EFF has launched a petition against the order.


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    Surveillance, Privacy, ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), NSA, National Security Agency, Barack Obama, United States
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