NSA broke data collection rules, finds audit

Tools

Over the course of one year, the National Security Agency broke rules for the collection, storage, access to and distribution of authorized surveillance 2,776 times, finds a classified internal audit published in a redacted form by The Washington Post.

The document, which was made public Aug. 15 but dated May 2012, was leaked by former CIA technical assistant and Booz Allen Hamilton contractor for the National Security Agency Edward Snowden. The document only reviews violations based out of NSA's Ft. Meade, Md. headquarters.

Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (codified at 50 USC § 1181a) legally and openly authorizes the gathering of content from emails, chat, file transfers and voice-over Internet protocol communications sent through most major U.S. Internet companies, when the communications involve non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located abroad and when the purpose of the surveillance is collection of foreign intelligence information.

According to the audit, the NSA at times unintentionally collected additional information due to typographical errors or violations of standard operating procedures. Perhaps the most serious incident cited by the audit involves the unauthorized use of data about more than 3,000 Americans and green card holders.

"One in 10 incidents is attributed to a typographical error in which an analyst enters an incorrect query and retrieves data about U.S phone calls or e-mails," reports the Post.

Other lapses outlined in the report include those that led to the interception of protected content and the use of automated systems that allowed broader surveillance, it adds. For example, auditors noted that NSA relied on technology that could not determine quickly whether or not a foreign mobile phone had crossed into U.S. territory.

For more:
- read the audit, OC-034-12 via The Washington Post 

Related Articles: 
Obama proposes legislative tweaks to bulk surveillance 
Scope of NSA Internet surveillance even larger than already known 
Dianne Feinstein floats cutting NSA telephone metadata retention down from 5 years 
Stellar Wind' collected Internet metadata through 2011