US federal watchdog calls for end to NSA phone records program

An independent federal oversight board condemns NSA surveillance in a report due for release Thursday

In a report to be released Thursday, the U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties board says the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records is illegal and should stop, according to the New York Times and the Washington Post, which received advance copies of the document.

The board is an independent federal agency, and the report marks its first comprehensive statement on the controversial program disclosed last year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

According to reports, the document critiques the government's legal rationale for the NSA program, Section 215 of the Patriot Act which was passed in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. It also questions the utility of the program, looking closely at some investigations where it was used and saying that there was "no instance in which the program directly contributed to the discovery of a previously unknown terrorist plot or the disruption of a terrorist attack."

The Times quoted the report as saying that the program "lacks a viable legal foundation under Section 215, implicates constitutional concerns under the First and Fourth Amendments, raises serious threats to privacy and civil liberties as a policy matter, and has shown only limited value. As a result, the board recommends that the government end the program."

The report recommends that raw phone records be deleted after three years rather than five, and the access to search results be limited further. Those recommendations were unanimous on the part of the five-member board, although two of the members, both former Justice Department lawyers during the George W. Bush administration, dissented from the finding that the program was illegal and the recommendation that it be shut down entirely, the Times said.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags National Security Agencysecuritygovernmentprivacy

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Elizabeth Heichler

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Crucial Ballistix Elite 32GB Kit (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3000 UDIMM

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Plox Star Wars Death Star Levitating Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?