Washington Post reports an internal audit shows NSA overstepped its legal authority when collecting Americans' data.

NSA's Violations of Privacy Rules Numbers in the Thousands

NSA's Violations of Privacy Rules Numbers in the Thousands

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Aug. 15 2013 10:34 PM

Snowden-Leaked NSA Audit Shows Agency Broke Privacy Rules "Thousands" of Times

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13: U.S. Army Gen. Keith Alexander, Director National Security Agency (NSA), and head of the US Cyber Command walks to a closed door U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee meeting, June 13, 2013 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony from members of the intelligence community on the collection of personal data that helped the NSA thwart a number of terror plots from ever unfolding both domestically and abroad. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The National Security Agency overstepped its authority and broke privacy rules on thousands of occasions since 2008, reports Barton Gellman of the Washington Post.


The NSA audit obtained by The Post, dated May 2012, counted 2,776 incidents in the preceding 12 months of unauthorized collection, storage, access to or distribution of legally protected communications. Most were unintended. Many involved failures of due diligence or violations of standard operating procedure. The most serious incidents included a violation of a court order and unauthorized use of data about more than 3,000 Americans and green-card holders.

The audit only tracked incidents of overreach by the agency in its offices in and around Washington, DC.  Sources told the Washington Post, the number would rise significantly if the investigation cast a wider net over the agency’s activities elsewhere.  

Here’s the full Washington Post report on the NSA’s privacy violations.

The NSA issued a statement in response to the Washington Post’s findings, saying:

In July 2012, Director of National Intelligence [James R.] Clapper declassified certain statements about the government’s implementation of Section 702 in order to inform the public and congressional debate relating to reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA). Those statements acknowledged that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had determined that “some collection carried out pursuant to the Section 702 minimization procedures used by the government was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.”