America’s emails mentioning foreign targets will no longer be collected by the NSA
By Sarah Martin
Contributor, In Military
The NSA is bringing to an end a long-standing, controversial surveillance practice, according to reports from the Washington Post. The agency’s collecting of American’s emails and texts that mention identifying terms of foreign targets, referred to as “about the target” collection, will no longer be conducted. This form of warrantless surveillance has been a topic of controversy for many years, with claims being made that it went against the Fourth Amendment.
This change is a huge development in the area of America’s surveillance policy. It came about after it was determined that analysts working for the NSA violated rules put in place by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. This practice’s legality came into question because of the obscure and complicated technical steps necessary to conduct the surveillance.
The NSA will still be continuing its major surveillance program referred to as “Section 702” of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, allowing the agency to collect electronic communications possibly containing foreign intelligence. Collection will now be limited to communications sent directly to or from a foreign target, according to a statement released by the agency. In another news release, the agency stated, “Even though NSA does not have the ability at this time to stop collecting “about” information without losing some other important data, the agency will stop the practice to reduce the chance that it would acquire communications of U.S. persons or others who are not in direct contact with a foreign intelligence target.”
Section 702 is by far a key tool in collecting foreign intelligence including information on cyber threats, nuclear production, foreign plans and intentions, and terrorist plots. This law is scheduled to expire at the end of this year and will be up for renewal by Congress.