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* NSA to scale back parts of its controversial surveillance methods
* A lapse in government compliance reportedly caused the change in protocol
* Privacy advocates consider it a major win
It’s been roughly four years since NSA contractor Edward Snowden released detailed documents showing the broad scope and depth of government surveillance. Now, the National Security Agency has announced it will stop collecting bulk data from Americans who are in contact with people overseas.
The practice, which was enacted in response to the 9/11 attacks, gave the NSA the freedom to spy on American citizens who they believed either mentioned or were in contact with potential foreign intelligence targets.
This — among other methods — enabled the NSA to spy on civilians without first requiring a warrant. Generally referred to as “upstream bulk data collection,” it allowed the NSA to freely collect people’s web history, email and text messages.
Privacy advocates are lauding the change in protocol as a major milestone. Speaking to The New York Times, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden was ecstatic. “This change ends a practice that allowed Americans’ communications to be collected without a warrant merely for mentioning a foreign target,” Wyden said.
However, instead of citing citizens’ rights as the reason for the stopping this controversial policy, the NSA has pointed to a lapse in government compliance for the abrupt change (though increasingly stringent protocol regulations and growing privacy concerns may have played a role).
The NSA has also said it will delete most of the communications it previously intercepted.
Snowden himself was quick to praise the change in policy, tweeting, “The truth changed everything.”