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US privacy report finds no problem with overseas FISA PRISM programme

Rights group finds problems with US privacy report
Wed Jul 02 2014, 12:40

A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT STUDY of the privacy implications of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) overseas orders has found no trace of illegitimate activity.

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board's study looked into the contentious Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which concerns the targeting of overseas individuals.

It found that anything done under section 702 looks just fine and dandy. "The Section 702 [programme] is extremely complex, involving multiple agencies, collecting multiple types of information, for multiple purposes. Overall, the Board has found that the information the [programme] collects has been valuable and effective in protecting the nation's security and producing useful foreign intelligence," it said in a pre-release version of its study that finds the system to be very open.

"The [programme] has operated under a statute that was publicly debated, and the text of the statute outlines the basic structure of the [programme]. Operation of the Section 702 [programme] has been subject to judicial oversight and extensive internal supervision, and the Board has found no evidence of intentional abuse."

The report was greeted with disappointment by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which described its findings as 'flawed'.

"The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) issued a legally flawed and factually incomplete report late Tuesday that endorses Section 702 surveillance," it said in a statement.

"Hiding behind the 'complexity' of the technology, it gives short shrift to the very serious privacy concerns that the surveillance has rightly raised for millions of Americans. The board also deferred considering whether the surveillance infringed the privacy of many millions more foreigners abroad."

The board did find that the activity does raise some privacy concerns, but added that its activities are a boon for anti-terror activities.

"The [702 programme] has proven valuable in the government's efforts to combat terrorism as well as in other areas of foreign intelligence," it said. "Monitoring terrorist networks under Section 702 has enabled the government to learn how they operate, and to understand their priorities, strategies, and tactics."

While the EFF said that the report is good as it shines a light on Section 702 reporting, it added that the report's legal analysis is "incorrect". µ


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