“Machine-Driven Mistakes”: William C. Banks Speaks to Fifth Domain About the IG Report on NSA Surveillance

NSA criticized for ‘increased risk’ of jeopardizing civil liberties

(Fifth Domain | July 25, 2018) The National Security Agency is at an “increased risk” of jeopardizing civil liberties and the privacy of American citizens, according to an inspector general report that comes just months after a controversial program that collects emails and phone calls was extended.

“A fair amount of it was apparently mechanical or machine-driven mistakes.”

The NSA watchdog said that agency analysts performed “noncompliant” searches using the organization’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Authority, which were caused by “human error, incomplete understanding of the rules, and gaps in guidance.”

According to the report, which covered the period from October 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018 the unauthorized searches were related to the FISA’s counterterrorism authority.

“This has been going on for some time,” said William Banks, a law professor at Syracuse University. He said that noncompliance was a heated topic when the section 702 of the FISA act was reauthorized earlier this year. “A fair amount of it was apparently mechanical or machine-driven mistakes … you would expect it might take the better part of a year for improvement in implementation to show results.”

Previously, privacy groups have raised issue with the noncompliance searches of digital and electronic records …

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