The NSA is arguably the most universally loathed government department currently operating. Each time there are allegations, or something about the agency’s practices comes to light, there’s a fresh batch of outrage. In a possible attempt to dispel the negative rumors, the NSA release its first transparency report, but a lot of people still aren’t satisfied.
The first NSA transparency report was released on an official tumblr page on June 26th. The report notes that there have been 1,767 FISA requests, which affected an estimated 1,144 targets. The report defines ‘target’ very broadly, as “an individual person, a group, or an organization composed of multiple individuals or a foreign power that possesses or is likely to communicate foreign intelligence information that the U.S. government is authorized to acquire by the above-referenced laws.”
In addition to standard FISA requests, there was one ‘section 702’ order that targeted nearly 90,000 foreign targets. The report also notes that 38,832 requests for information were made through National Security Letters. But that is about as far into detail as the report goes. It seems to have ill defined parameters, and admits that targets may in some instances be counted more than once, and sometimes multiple targets are counted as a single target.
This lack of definition, and lack of transparency has caused anger among some. Al Franken, junior Senator for Minnesota, said “I recognize that this report is being offered in good faith. But it still leaves Americans in the dark. It doesn’t tell the American people enough about what information is being gathered about them and how it’s being used.”
The NSA may be protecting the interests of the American intelligence community by leaving the data ill defined. However, the report leaves consumers with as little knowledge of how their data is being collected and used as they had before the report was released.
According to the Washington Post, the NSA may be collecting just under 30 percent of all US based call data, according to the Post. But if the report is to be believed, it may only be collecting data from the phones of 671 citizens, if the report is to be believed. The report has done little to clear the controversy surrounding the NSA, and may have made the issue more opaque.