The National Security Agency has deleted surveillance data and backup files that it pledged to preserve under court orders, the Politico website wrote Saturday.
The NSA told US District Court Judge Jeffrey White Thursday that the agency hadn't preserved data from internet communications intercepted on the order of George W. Bush between 2007 and 2011. Moreover, the agency deleted all backup files back for 2009, 2011 and 2016, claiming that it was in need of more space to collect new information.
"The NSA's review to date reveals that this [Presidential Surveillance Program] Internet content data was not specifically targeted for deletion, but rather the PSP Internet content data matched criteria that were broadly used to delete data of a certain type… in response to mission requirements to free-up space and improve performance of the [redacted] back-up system," an NSA official, publicly identified as "Dr. Mark O" said in a statement.
The case is regarded as defying a court order which could result in either civil or criminal contempt charges, however, no one has asked for any penalties to be imposed upon the agency yet.
The revelations have emerged amid the extension by Congress of the legal authority to conduct surveillance work through US internet providers in a measure, signed Friday by US President Donald Trump.
The issue of Washington conducting mass surveillance was revealed in 2013 by former CIA and NSA employee Edward Snowden, who claimed that the US was attempting to intercept nearly all phone calls and e-mails worldwide.