Right after President Obama's speech today on US surveillance, his administration released two documents in an effort to stem criticism over NSA data collection, CNN reports. One is an NSA memo that says the agency only monitors 1.6% of worldwide Internet traffic, and puts eyeballs on just .00004% of it. The other is a Justice Department document that argues US surveillance respects freedoms under the First and Fourth Amendments. Among the NSA memo's details:
- The NSA eavesdropped on conversations between one of the 9/11 hijackers and al-Qaeda allies in Yemen. But the NSA was unable to determine that the hijacker was living in San Diego, so it couldn't warn the FBI. New data collection techniques were developed to address that issue.
From the Justice Department document:
- Most "telephony metadata" is never seen by anyone "because it is not responsive to the limited queries that are authorized."
- Most phone data does not "involve tracking locations from which telephone calls are made" (although that seems to contradict the NSA memo).
- Unlike GPS tracking on cars, which requires a warrant, phone tracking is different because "telephone calls lack a reasonable expectation of privacy."
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