by Eric Lieberman
The National Security Agency (NSA) tripled its collection of Americans’ phone call and text message records in 2017, according to U.S. intelligence agency report published Friday.
The federal surveillance agency gathered 534 million records in 2017, a 151 million increase from 2016.
The government “has not altered the manner in which it uses its authority to obtain call detail records,” Timothy Barrett, a spokesman at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told Reuters. “We expect this number to fluctuate from year to year.”
Americans weren’t the only ones looked upon on by U.S. authorities. Under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which was renewed earlier in the year, investigators spied on 129,080 non-U.S. citizens living abroad, an uptick of 22,611. Over a five-year span, the surveillance of foreigners rose roughly 45 percent.
Section 702 of FISA is a huge point of contention politically and societally, as civil liberties advocates and more privacy-focused lawmakers say it’s often used beyond the legal bounds with authorities scooping up the communications of law-abiding Americans. Those in the larger intelligence and law enforcement community, however, argue that it’s critical for protecting the country from menaces, evildoers and terrorists.
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Eric Lieberman is a reporter for Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Eric on Twitter.
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