U.S. to disclose estimate of number of American citizens under surveillance

“The U.S. intelligence community will soon disclose an estimate of the number of Americans whose electronic communications have been caught in the crosshairs of online surveillance programs intended for foreigners, U.S. lawmakers said in a letter seen by Reuters on Friday,” Dustin Volz reports for Reuters. “The estimate, requested by members of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, is expected to be made public as early as next month, the letter said.”

“Its disclosure would come as Congress is expected to begin debate in the coming months over whether to reauthorize or reform the so-called surveillance authority, known as Section 702, a provision that was added to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2008,” Volz reports. “‘The timely production of this information is incredibly important to informed debate on Section 702 in the next Congress — and, without it, even those of us inclined to support reauthorization would have reason for concern,’ said the letter signed by 11 lawmakers, all members of the House Judiciary Committee [Republicans James Sensenbrenner, Darrell Issa, Ted Poe and Jason Chaffetz; Democrats John Conyers, Jerrold Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Hank Johnson, Ted Deutch, Suzan DelBene and David Cicilline]. The letter was sent on Friday to National Intelligence Director James Clapper.”

MacDailyNews Take: Throughout the lifetime of the once-secret program, which began in October 2001, it has never been the difference maker in thwarting any terrorist attack, according to testimony and government reports.The New York Times, May 23, 2015

“Section 702 will expire on Dec. 31, 2017, absent congressional action. It enables two internet surveillance programs called Prism and Upstream that were revealed in a series of leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden more than three years ago,” Volz reports. “Prism gathers messaging data from Alphabet Inc’s Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and other major tech companies that is sent to and from a foreign target under surveillance. Upstream allows the NSA to copy web traffic flowing along the internet backbone located inside the United States and search that data for certain terms associated with a target.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Adhere to the U.S. Constitution.

Oppose government overreach.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Obama urges Senate to renew NSA’s bulk phone surveillance program – May 27, 2015
U.S. Senate blocks measures to extend so-called Patriot Act; NSA’s bulk collection of phone records in jeopardy – May 23, 2015
Rand Paul commandeers U.S. Senate to protest so-called Patriot Act, government intrusion on Americans’ privacy – May 20, 2015
Apple, others urge Obama to reject any proposal for smartphone backdoors – May 19, 2015
U.S. appeals court rules NSA bulk collection of phone data illegal – May 7, 2015
In open letter to Obama, Apple, Google, others urge Patriot Act not be renewed – March 26, 2015
Apple’s iOS encryption has ‘petrified’ the U.S. administration, governments around the world – March 19, 2015
Obama criticizes China’s demands for U.S. tech firms to hand over encryption keys, install backdoors – March 3, 2015
Apple CEO Tim Cook advocates privacy, says terrorists should be ‘eliminated’ – February 27, 2015
Apple’s Tim Cook warns of ‘dire consequences’ of sacrificing privacy for security – February 13, 2015
DOJ warns Apple: iPhone encryption will lead to a child dying – November 19, 2014
Apple CEO Tim Cook ups privacy to new level, takes direct swipe at Google – September 18, 2014
A message from Tim Cook about Apple’s commitment to your privacy – September 18, 2014
Apple will no longer unlock most iPhones, iPads for police, even with search warrants – September 18, 2014
Apple, Google, others call for government surveillance reform – December 9, 2013


    1. While it may seem to you as one-sided, it is still quite factual. Aside from the well-publicised Jayson Blair scandal (13 years ago), they have a pretty clean record when it comes to factual reporting.

      There is a difference between fake news and political bias. “Pope endorses Trump” is a fake news story. It never happened and is completely fabricated. “Rich white real estate mogul kicks out black family of four form their home of eight years” can be an extremely biased headline about Trump election, but would still be factually accurate. Anyone who knows how to “read between the lines” could filter out the bias and get the facts out of the story. With fake news, there ARE no facts.

      1. But who checks the “fact checkers”?

        “Anyone who knows how to “read between the lines” could filter out the bias and get the facts out of the story.”

        And then fill in their own “facts” as they choose to see them.

        I once had a dinner date with a lady who suggested that there should be one place to go to in order to verify all facts. I asked her who that should be. She answered:” the government of course”

        It was a short dinner date.

        But who checks the “fact checkers? Each of us in individually must do it. But its “haaaaard” There is no workable alternative.

  1. It is too simplistic to just say adhere to the Constitution. The document is designed to be updated, and if representatives actually did their jobs, they would add amendments to clarify the privacy rights of citizens. It is a living document, now woefully inadequate in sections to address the technologies that its authors could never have imagined.

    It does not good to stick to the constitution when the Constitution is completely silent on issues like citizen surveillance.

    In many cases, Americans could learn a lot of things from the language of other democratic nations’ constitutions, which were written later — based on and improved from the 18th century framework that Americans rely on.

    Remember, the Constitution itself was written as a replacement to the Articles of Confederation to enable a stronger federal government that would could collect taxes and organize an army. It was never intended to be the final word — the Bill of Rights was tacked on immediately to rectify obvious oversights. Many more oversights remain and need to be addressed.

    Here’s just a sampling of what is not in the U.S. Constitution that people who call themselves strict constitutionalists assume is there:

    Aviation or the Air Force
    Citizen surveillance/CCTV and traffic cameras/facial recognition
    Congressional Districts
    The Electoral College
    Executive Orders & Privilege
    Freedom of Expression / (Absolute) Freedom of Speech and Press
    Impeachment means removal from office
    Innocent until proven guilty
    Judicial Review
    Jury of Peers
    Martial Law
    Number of Justices in the Supreme Court
    Paper Money
    Political Parties
    Primary Elections
    Qualifications for Judges
    The right to privacy
    The right to travel
    The right to vote


    In most cases, federal or state law fills in the gaps, albeit in a patchwork manner that creates inconsistencies and inefficiencies. But it is plainly obvious that the Constitution needs improvement. Right to Travel, for goodness’ sake. Should be guaranteed, but the founding slave owners didn’t like that idea. We should be past that now, aren’t we?

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